Minister Lee looks for structural approach to improving Health Care

Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Labour Emil Lee


PHILIPSBURG – “Numerous rumors, accusations and melee are contributing to a tense environment in the development and improvement of healthcare in St. Maarten. The current environment is unhealthy and not conducive to developing a proper structure for the improvement of our health care system,” a release from the Ministry of Health stated.

The Ministry of VSA is working on multiple fronts to improve the quality, access and affordability of healthcare in St Maarten. While VSA is working on the new St. Maarten General Hospital, which is tied up in legal dispute with Vamed, National Health Reform and National Health Insurance, there is also a need to develop protocols, human capital and capacity within our health care institutions.

“In order to work on these key points, we need to ensure that there is an environment of trust, openness and mutual understanding. Currently, I don’t believe that constructive environment exists,” said Minister of Health Emil Lee.

“In order to restore a constructive and structural approach to the improvement of our health care system, I have requested that an impartial third party come in to conduct an audit of the SMMC.  I believe that this audit will provide a clear and impartial path for all stakeholders to follow to structurally improve our healthcare system. While we are still discussing the scope of the audit, it is my hope that the audit will be as broad and all-encompassing as possible, including for example the referral process and continuity of care,” commented Minister Lee.

The Audit will be conducted by the Inspectorate of the Netherlands (IGZ). The following areas will be part of the scope of the audit:

  1. Governance (in relation to quality of care and patient safety).
  2. Quality management in the SMMC (key indicators, calamities, complaints, protocols, proper PDCA cycle etc.)
  3. Patient safety.
  4. Competence and functioning of specialists and divisions.
  5. Inspection of: OR, ICU, NICU, Dialysis and blood bank.

The audit will have to be planned in consultation with IGZ, but within the next 4-6 weeks depending on the availability of a proper team and will take about 5 working days.

In addition, there have been numerous discussions about working towards an accreditation program such as the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation. A number of the hospitals that SZV is currently working with such as Health City in Cayman Island and FCV in Colombia have expressed interest in not only working together on referral patients from St. Maarten, but all working in a consultative and structural way forward, beginning with Telemedicine, Education, Continuity of Care and advice towards accreditation.