Minister Lee visits St. Maarten patients during trip to Colombia

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PHILIPSBURG – As part of Health Minister Emil Lee’s self-financed visit to Coomeva and medical facilities in Colombia, he made a point of visiting as many patients as possible from St. Maarten who were in the cities of Cali, Bogota and Medellin at the time.

As part of the Minister’s hands-on approach, he felt that it was important to get direct feedback from patients as to the quality of service and of the medical treatment being received by St. Maarten patients. The informal interviews included discussions about the ability of patients to communicate with hospital staff, comfort level, experiences with logistics, quality of the medical services, experience with SZV and the entire referral process. These informal interviews were conducted in private and without the presence of hospital or Coomeva staff, which allowed patients to speak freely about their experiences.

According to Minister Lee, “The feedback on the quality of care and level of professionalism from the medical facilities has all been very positive. Most expressed satisfaction with the entire referral process. Other patients expressed some frustration with the referral process much of which seems to be on either a breakdown in chain of communications or issues that originate prior to arrival in Colombia. Based on first impressions and feedback from patients in Colombia, I am comfortable that our patients from St. Maarten are being well treated. Naturally, there is always room for improvement and discussions will continue on how to streamline and improve communication and level of service for our residents.”

“As discussions continue with regard to the development of a new hospital for St. Maarten, there will always be a need to refer patients abroad. As the range and quality of services offered locally improve, hopefully we will be able to keep patients close to home and reduce the number of referrals. However, it is anticipated that there will always be a need for some level of referral for more complicated cases and therefore, it is important to have a reliable and high quality referral program in place,” said Minister Lee.