Minister Lee looks for structural approach to improving Health Care

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Minister Lee looks for structural approach to improving Health Care

St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) File photo St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) File photo

POND ISLAND - 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.

The Ministry of VSA (Public Health, Social Development and Labour) 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 our 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 Public 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 SMMC welcomes the initiative of Minister Lee to bring in an independent audit of the healthcare provided by the SMMC. There is always room for improvement and having the opportunity to have the input of the health inspectorate of the Netherlands can be of added value.  As a long time professional In the field of healthcare, I have had lots of experience with the high quality professionalism that this organization there brings to the table. Further improvement of quality of healthcare is hereby the ultimate goal," said Director of SMMC Kees Klarenbeek.

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.

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