COLOMBIA/ST. MAARTEN – Minister of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor Emil Lee, recently returned from a fact finding mission to Columbia. As the Ministry has been forced to make budget cuts, as a show of support for cost-cutting, Minister Lee financed his own travel expenses.
The purpose of the visit was to get a first-hand assessment of the quality of healthcare that the people of St. Maarten receive when referred there. “My instructions to Coomeva were that I wanted to be treated as a patient from SZV. I wanted to experience exactly what our people experience when they are referred to Columbia, from ground transportations, to hotels, to medical facilities,” said Minister Lee.
During the visit, an assessment was made of Coomeva, who is a client representative for public health insurance SZV, for patients from St. Maarten. An assessment was made on the quality of hotels, hospitals, transportation, and medical care.
The Minister visited the cities of Cali, Bogota, and Medellin. Based on reports in St. Maarten, Minister Lee went with concerns about extended stays, mortality rates, the quality of care, and language.
In his findings, Minister Lee concluded that he was very comfortable with Coomeva as a partner. “Coomeva was very professional, transparent, and provided me with all information that I requested. Their quality of care seems excellent, many of their hospitals have international accreditation, and many of their physicians are trained internationally. Overall, my experience was very positive,” said Minister Lee.
Based on meetings, Ministry VSA has some follow up action points, which include: finalizing an agreement between SZV and Coomeva; reviewing the entire referral process; and establishing improved protocols for communication. Other action points are: coordinating meetings on the island with reference to the review of business/care strategies; reviewing of the committee for patient referrals; exploring tele-medicine possibilities; and looking into quality control protocols on the referral process.
“Overall, I am very comfortable with the professionalism and capacity of our partnership with Coomeva. The quality of medical care and patient services in Columbia seems to be very capable. Clearly, there are areas for improvement in the relationship between St. Maarten and Colombia, and we will be working on this in short order,” concluded Minister Lee.