THE NETHERLANDS – During Minister of Health Emil Lee’s recent working visit to the Netherlands, he met with Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports, Edith Schippers to inform her about plans for the new hospital project for St. Maarten, as well as to discuss areas for possible cooperation on health care between the Kingdom partners, The Netherlands, St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius.
The delegation representing St. Maarten included Managing Director of KPMG corporate Finance Henk de Zeeuw, Head of the Department of Public Health Drs. Fenna Arnell, and Director of the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) Kees Klarenbeek. Representatives from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports in the Netherlands included Project Manager of the Ministry of VWS and Healthcare BES Dr. Rob Sardeman, and Director of VWS Drs. Herbert Barnard.
Discussions centered on how through cooperation healthcare costs can be controlled while ensuring quality, accessible and affordable health services close to home. Minister Schippers also touched on how technology can be used to help improve the overall health of the population.
Minister Schippers and her team raised issues surrounding the smooth and seamless transfer of patients by helicopter from the BES islands. Minister Lee stated, “Immediately upon my return to St. Maarten, I have been in contact with the airport and civil aviation to resolve some issues that are hampering the emergency evacuation of patients from Saba and Statia to St. Maarten. These logistical issues are mostly centered on the inconvenient location that the helicopters are required to land, which creates problems with refueling and patient transfers. Additionally, the SMMC is investigating the possibility of a location close to the hospital for a landing area both for current operations as well as for the new hospital.”
Minister Lee further reported that “the meeting was open and constructive. Clearly there are many areas for cooperation. Cooperation that will ultimately be beneficial for everyone including the BES islands. Controlling healthcare costs, delivering quality care to the people, controlling infectious diseases and putting proper quality control systems in place are all areas that we share common interests. I am all for sharing information and resources if it benefits the people of St. Maarten and by default others in the Kingdom.”