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Advice to expand cooperation with St. Maarten, St. Martin hospitals

THE HAGUE--The cooperation between St. Eustatius and Saba and the hospitals in Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin should be expanded so patients from the two smaller islands can be treated as close to home as possible.

That is the opinion of the Work Group Care Caribbean Netherlands of former Curaçao and Netherlands Antilles Governor Frits Goedgedrag. The work group sent its advice to Dutch Minister of Health Care, Wellbeing and Sports Edith Schippers in April. The minister has informed the island governments and the Dutch Parliament that she will take over the advice integrally.

The work group advised to “further intensify” the cooperation between St. Eustatius, Saba, Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin where it comes to the medical care for patients of the two smaller islands.

“St. Maarten and St. Martin are the primary destination for medical treatment that can’t be offered in St. Eustatius and Saba. That means that there can be no medical referral to Colombia or Guadeloupe in case treatment is possible in St. Maarten or St. Martin,” the work group stated in its 12-page report.

In order to increase the possibilities for medical treatment in St. Maarten/St. Martin, the work group advised to expand the cooperation with the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and the Louis Constant Fleming hospital on the French side.

The work group advised minister Schippers to check whether the current cooperation that the Bonaire hospital Fundashon Mariadal has with the Amsterdam hospitals AMC and VUmc to the SMMC.

“There seems to be reason for some optimism where it comes to the quality of the SMMC. Checked should also be whether the Louis Constant Fleming hospital is willing to expand the number of visiting medical specialists,” the work group stated.

Medical referrals to Colombia or Guadeloupe will remain a possibility for third line care, specialist care in support of second line care that is offered at the hospitals in St. Maarten/St. Martin. Considered could also be to further specify for which medical care a patient is sent to Guadeloupe and for which medical care the patient needs to go to Colombia.

Patients in need of emergency care will be referred to St. Maarten/St. Martin. Extreme urgent cases (blue light) will be referred to Guadeloupe or Martinique. Special protocols with the Service d’Aide Médicale Urgente SAMU will be drafted for these extremely urgent cases.

One of the most important conclusions of the work group was that no increase of the current health care budget, 84.2 million euros in 2014, was needed to further develop and improve health care in the Caribbean Netherlands.

“The current health care expenditures, as well as the slight increase as foreseen in the calculations, form a realistic and acceptable financial framework for the further development of health care in the Caribbean Netherlands according to the work group. This does imply that possible future budget overruns will not be automatically covered by the minister of Health Care, Wellbeing and Sports,” the work group stated.

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