Baggage being loaded onto a medical referral flight by EZ Air from F.D. Roosevelt Airport in St. Eustatius. (File photo)
ST. EUSTATIUS–Deputy Government Commissioner Alida Francis says Health Insurance Office ZVK has been working closely with the local authorities in St. Eustatius to provide the necessary services for medical referrals abroad, especially for elective care.This involves persons who need specialist care in Colombia, but after the South American country closed its borders during the coronavirus pandemic medical referrals were no longer possible for ZVK patients.
Due to this development, whenever possible specialist care was relocated to St. Maarten and Aruba. This arrangement, Francis said, depended on the capacity of these islands, as both islands do not have every form of elective care available for patients from Statia.With the changing situation in St. Maarten and Aruba in recent weeks due to the rise in local transmission of the COVID-19 virus, ZVK has made arrangements for medical referrals to Curaçao.
However, in the past week, the situation in Curaçao has also changed due to an increase in local cases of COVID-19.Francis said the Curaçao health authorities are conducting contact-tracing to determine the scope of the local spread. Meanwhile, the St. Eustatius Public Health Department was in contact with an epidemiologist in Curaçao on Wednesday, who assured public-health officials that there is a secure bubble in place to accommodate ZVK medical referrals from Statia.
The public entity St. Eustatius continues to stress how important it is that patients adhere to the strict guidelines outlined in the medical-referral protocol that is in place. “That means that if everyone adheres strictly to the rules as established to safely accommodate Statia patients, there should be no problem,” Francis said.Due to the COVID-19 situation, some patients opted not to travel at all and some are scared and do not want to take a risk, she said.“This decision can in some cases bring these patients’ personal health into jeopardy, but with that said this decision lies with the patient.”
In cases of an acute medical emergency the general practitioner will make the final decision, Francis said.“The St. Eustatius government wants to assure you that we will continue doing our utmost to manage COVID-19 in the interest of public health, while at the same time working to ensure that life will continue as normal as possible for the times in which we are currently living,” Francis said.
Travel has become a costly affair while also being a logistical challenge, she added. “We are asking for everyone’s patience and understanding as we work with our team and other stakeholders to explore different scenarios. Let us all remain vigilant and remember that together we are stronger,” Francis added.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/statia-govt-assures-public-of-zvk-bubble-in-curacao