MP-Elect Heyliger-Marten: ‘SZV must improve its service to Senior Citizens’

Member of Parliament Elect Grisha Heyliger-Marten (right) during a visit with Hermogenes Polonia Raap who will be 101-years-old in April this year. Hermogenes better known as “Rap” has lived on St. Maarten for over 40 years and has never been acknowledged even after becoming a centenarian.


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Member of Parliament elect for the United People’s Party (UPP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten has issued a call for the Social & Health Insurance institution SZV to address the technical issue negatively affecting the printing of Social Insurance Cards and increase the life of the cards from two (2) to five (5) years for Senior Citizens.

Heyliger-Marten believes one key area of improving the social wellbeing of our society is by adapting global best practices when caring for our Senior Citizens. With the economic challenges individuals face daily, Heyliger-Marten says there is also a clear argument for raising the pension premium.

Many of our older citizens struggle with illnesses that make mobilising themselves a painful task at best. “St. Maarten should be at the stage were providing transportation for our seniors who need support for medical treatment is standard. It should also not be only at banks that our seniors do not have long waits in lines to receive essential services on the island.”

“Our Social and Health Insurance institution must adapt best practices to serve our older adults better and help them meet the challenges that come with ageing. Verification of prescriptions and refilling medicine should be a service the SZV provides directly to the homes of our Senior Citizens,” said Heyliger-Marten on Sunday.

Part of her campaign leading up to the recently held snap elections of January 9th was improving the lives of Senior Citizens who she says are receiving a “raw deal” after they spent most of their lives helping to build St. Maarten. Her message resonated well with the population resulting in her obtaining the highest number of votes for the UPP Party, a significant achievement for a new political candidate, previously only accomplished by her husband former Member of Parliament Theodore Heyliger.

Referencing Mahatma Gandhi, Heyliger-Marten said as a lawyer, social activist and leader “Gandhi educated people on the importance of care for seniors. He told his people that the greatness of a country could be judged by how it treats the weakest of its citizens. “For me, that means we must be better at taking care of the poor, young children, persons with mental and physical disabilities and the Senior Citizens of our country,” said Heyliger-Marten.

During her campaign, Heyliger-Marten drew reference to the low Pension premium paid to Senior Citizens, which she noted fell below St. Maarten’s Minimum Wage. She said it is also significantly less than is being paid to seniors elsewhere within the Netherlands Kingdom.

“I challenge the SZV to invest in an Island Wide campaign of respect for Senior Citizens. They have built St. Maarten, and we must stop saying no to them and come up with solutions to better their lives. It is high time that we review the SZV’s policy on how it treats our Seniors,” said Heyliger-Marten.

Heyliger-Marten believes that the outcome of such a review “must include ensuring SZV provides tools and resources to our Seniors to help them maintain their independence.”

She said, “We cannot make our Senior Citizens feel helpless when they have to leave their homes for a Doctor’s visit. If they must leave their home for specialised care, we must go to their homes to pick them up and return them to their homes after they have received the necessary medical care.”

The goal of the SZV should be to help our citizens maintain a healthy lifestyle in an atmosphere of comfort. Heyliger-Marten is also concerned about the transition from being medically covered as an employee to being a Pensioner. She said, “We must make the transition from medical coverage as an employee to becoming a pensioner as smooth as possible so that our citizens do not have to worry about what comes next for them.”

She is insisting that the SZV Initiates more discussions with the Seniors and their Caregivers to find ways to improve the level of service it provides and help soon to be Pensioners plan their future. The outcome should include incorporating services in their pension plan that are geared towards prevention.

As an incoming Member of Parliament, I recognize the task of an MP and as such I will admonish the SZV to work with the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour VSA and their boards to review the legislation and policies that negatively affects their patient. “Let me make it clear from the onset that patient care is something that I intend to keep a keen eye on as a legislator,” said Heyliger- Marten.