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Innovative Laser Surgery at St. Maarten Medical Center

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has expanded its services. The Urologist, Dr. Diego Ramos, has recently added several new surgical procedures to the department.

The specialist, who began his tenure at the SMMC last year, has worked continuously to develop the Urology department to a standard that can facilitate much needed treatment to all patients.

With the introduction of this new service, new equipment was required. In October of 2017 the hospital received new laser equipment. The system has the capability of addressing a diverse spectrum of Urological conditions. It is specially designed for the treatment of kidney/bladder stones and soft tissue, such as the prostate.

Recently, the department acquired another innovative device.  The new system delivers high-resolution digital images for high-quality visualization and seamless navigation during surgical procedures.

The machine is efficient for use in minimally invasive endoscopic procedures to diagnose and treat stones and other conditions of the kidney, ureter and bladder.  This helps the specialist remove kidney stones quickly, easily, and safely with the use of a laser. In addition, the system provides better access, diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the urinary tract.

The Urologist expressed that the laser surgeries are minimally invasive and provide better treatment solutions for stones, strictures, soft tissue and tumors. It is common for patients to experience relatively short recovery times after the surgery and they are able to return to their ordinary daily activities within 2 to 3 days.

In the past, patients faced no other option than to travel abroad to receive both simple and complex urological treatment options.

This marks the first time that the hospital can provide such treatment options within their roster of care. These new advancements in the urological department further underline the continued progression of SMMC’s commitment to growth, as it prepares for the new hospital. 

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Port St. Maarten returns from CSEC. Disaster Awareness and Shipping in the Digital Age Topics of Discussion

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten was represented at the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA) 17th Executives Conference (CSEC) that took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from May 14 to May 18.

CSEC brought together shipping executives, industry leaders, port authorities and renowned speakers who addressed maritime issues.

“Port St. Maarten continues on its steady and affirmative road to recovery albeit being used by neighboring ports and shipping lines as a catalyst in this rebound phase we are in.

“Kudos were echoed by our partners within the region and international sphere by our responsiveness after the storm and our continued relentless efforts to regain full operational capacity at the Port,” Port St. Maarten said on Tuesday.

“There was a lot of emphasis placed on Disaster Awareness in particular lessons learned which couldn’t come at a better time to refresh the minds as we approach this new upcoming hurricane season.

“A half-day workshop was added about Disaster Awareness with representatives from industry leaders, ports in the region, and international shipping lines.

“Port St. Maarten continues to see double digit growth as the country continues with its rebuilding efforts. We expect this to continue and increase as soon as the various tranches of the recovery aid through the World Bank starts to circulate throughout the different sectors within the community,” Port St. Maarten Management added.

During CSEC discussion, key emphasis was also placed on the rise of ecommerce-based industries and how shipping is becoming digital as Ports are now forced to become Hi-tech savvy to be competitive with the rise of the digital age.

CSA was established in 1971 to facilitate development of an efficient, viable Caribbean shipping industry. Since then, the Association has become the voice of the region's shipping industry and a major regional forum in which matters relevant to the growth and development of Caribbean shipping are discussed.

The CSA represents its membership in relevant regional hemispheric groupings, associations and organizations - governmental, multilateral and private sector; and maintains Observer status with leading Caribbean multilateral bodies CARICOM and the Association of Caribbean States.

Caribbean Shipping Association represents private and public-sector interests across the entire Caribbean area, including South, Central and North American ports; in all four major language groups - English, French, Spanish, and Dutch. The CSA uses English as its official language.

CSA membership includes 12 national shipping associations and over 100 individual member entities, including port authorities, terminal operators, shipping agents, shipping lines, tug and salvage companies, consultants, freight forwarders, leasing companies and others.

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Hospital bill for damages claims soars as more people make complaints

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch hospital bill for damages following medical errors has gone up over 400% in 10 years, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.

In 2007, hospitals paid out €9.4m in compensation but that had soared to €43.2m by 2016, the paper said. The rise is mainly due to more large claims being made, with the total number increasing 4.5% over the 10-year period.

The biggest claim in the 10 years was for €1.9m. ‘Doctors think that more claims are being made and that fear is leading to a more defensive approach to treatment,’ health lawyer and researcher Désirée Klemann told the paper.

‘This is sometimes means more diagnoses are being made than strictly necessary to make sure nothing gets missed out.’ Ageeth Bakker, chairman of Centramed, which is one of the big two medical insurance companies, told the Volkskrant that the Netherlands is still far removed from the situation in the US.

‘But we have to be careful that we don’t head in that direction,’ she said. ‘We don’t want a situation in which doctors refuse to practise because they can no longer afford the insurance.’ (DutchNews)

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129-suite Sonesta Ocean Point Resort to Open November 15

SINT MAARTEN (MAHO) - Reopening November 15, 2018, Sonesta Ocean Point Resort embraces a contemporary Caribbean style, offering an adults-only, limitless all-inclusive vacation experience, while bringing style, luxury and outstanding service to St. Maarten.

Set in the most spectacular location with breathtaking views over Maho Bay, adjacent to Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, the 129 all-suite ultra-luxurious yet sustainable “resort within a resort” sits on the westernmost point of the island and features three exclusive pools including the Edge pool with a zero entry cliff side beach, four bars and two restaurants including the signature Azul restaurant and other resort amenities such as 24-hour room service, state-of-the-art fitness center, an open-air wellness area and private cabanas.

Amenities are complemented by exemplary service from personalized concierges and Butler service in the top 25 suite categories for extra comfort and next level luxury, all culminating in one of the most uniquely designed resorts in St. Maarten and the entire Caribbean.

Apart from the exclusive amenities at Sonesta Ocean Point, guest have full access to all services and facilities at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa with five additional restaurants and bars, Serenity Spa with sauna and steam room, tour desk, sports courts, Casino Royale and more than 24,000 square-feet of brand new meeting and conference facilities.

Sonesta Ocean Point Resort fortunately sustained somewhat less damage, with the structure, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems remaining in good condition, as the property recently underwent a 2015 gut renovation. Repairs are being made to damaged areas with improvements implemented to increase storm resistance of the building’s exterior envelope.

The Ocean Point lobby will be entirely redesigned and given an updated contemporary style, while the new Casa Blue, a Spanish-style tapas restaurant, will debut on the rooftop terrace above Azul restaurant.

The Convention Center, including the Royal Pavilion, will be completely rebuilt and redesigned by Design + Positif, updating all its 24,000 square-feet of eco-friendly meeting and conference facilities accommodating up to 700 guests, keeping with the new contemporary décor of the adjacent resorts.

Maho Village, the shopping and nightlife promenade located just steps outside the resorts, along with Casino Royale, the largest gaming emporium on St. Maarten, are undergoing a massive transformation as well, and are set to re-open this summer with a modern new look.

Casino Royale will continue to offer over 21,000 square-feet of gaming and entertainment with the biggest theater in the region, and will debut two new alfresco restaurants and a new outdoor bar and lounge overlooking the main street of Maho Village.

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Victims hurt in Saturday night traffic accident on Pond fill

PHILIPSBURG - The Police Traffic Department is presently investigating a serious traffic accident which took place on Saturday May 19th at approximately 11. 20 p.m. on the Walter Nisbet road in the vicinity of the Central Bank.

According to a police statement on Sunday: “The accident was between two private vehicles with license plate 8751AAC and P-2267. The driver of the 8751AAC making a left turn did not give the right of way to the oncoming traffic P-2267 heading in the direction of the Salt Pickers Round about causing the vehicles to collide head-on.

“The occupants of the 8751AAC complained of pain in the neck while the driver of P-2267 suffered a broken right leg. All victims were taken by ambulance to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further treatment. Both vehicles had severe damage.” (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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More young Dutch adults admit to being addicted to social media

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Almost three in 10 youngsters aged 18 to 25 say they are addicted to social media and keep their phones with them at all times, according to new research by the national statistics office CBS.

This is a sharp rise on three years ago, when 19% of young adults said they could not stop constantly checking their phones. Young adults are also spending an increasing amount of time using social media.

Some 29% say they are busy with social media websites for three to five hours a day and nearly 9% admitting to spending five to 10 hours checking their messages.

Some 34% of youngsters say they spend so much time on sites like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat because they are afraid of missing something.

One in four say they because restless if they cannot read messages and 37% say being away from an internet connection is a major nuisance. (DutchNews)

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Bar and cafe owners plan ‘mega claim’ if smoking room ban is not delayed

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Bar and cafe owners say they will present the government with a multi-million-euro damages claim if it presses ahead with plans to close all smoking rooms within two years.

The hospitality industry lobby group KHN says a transition period of a minimum of five years is necessary to earn back the investment in expensive ventilation systems and separate rooms.

A survey of members showed the average bill for a smoking room has been €12,500 and without a longer transition period, many bar owners will not be compensated for the cost, chairman Robèr Willemsen told the Telegraaf.

In February appeal court judges ruled cafes and bars should close their special smoking rooms, which they set up when the ban on smoking was introduced in 2008. The case was brought by Clean Air Nederland which argued that by allowing special smoking rooms, the Netherlands was breaking the terms of an agreement with the World Health Organisation.

In that agreement, the Netherlands said it would take steps to stop people being exposed to tobacco smoke in ‘indoor public places’. The court has now ruled this also applies to smoking rooms in cafes and bars.

The KHN said in April that the ban on smoking rooms will lead to increased noise and other problems for locals because four in 10 cafe and bar owners have no designated outdoor area where smokers could stand. (DutchNews)

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Cash no longer king for the Dutch as electronic payments take over

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch are continuing to use less and less cash when buying goods and services in the Netherlands, new figures from payment association Betaalvereniging Nederland show.

In total, 41.4% of payments last year were made in cash, down from 45% a year earlier, the association said. And 40% of payments made using direct debit cards were contactless, over double the 2016 figure.

Online shoppers are still most likely to use their computer to make purchases, but phone payments are increasingly popular, and now account for over 13% of online sales.

Cash is being phased out in shops and on trams and buses too. Amsterdam’s public transport system has been cash free since earlier this year, and various shops, such as Marqt and the Vlaamse Broodhuis, no longer accept coins or notes.

A report by the European central bank last November said the Dutch are the least likely of all eurozone Europeans to use cash and that Netherlands is the only country in the eurozone where cashless payments outstrip notes and coins. (DutchNews)

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Snooping Amsterdam civil servants broke privacy laws with Facebook research

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – An analysis of the Facebook networks of trouble-making youngsters by the Amsterdam city authorities constituted a breach of privacy and should have been reported to privacy monitoring body AP, the NRC reports.

The paper found that in 2015, Amsterdam civil servants decided to build up a picture of the networks of youngsters who hung around on the streets and caused a nuisance in Amsterdam Zuid.

By looking at their networks the authorities thought they would gain a better understanding of this group. After an initial investigation by a data company the networks of around 1,200 people were analysed resulting in information the authorities did not have before, for instance about contacts between groups in different parts of the city.

However, in a reaction to the paper’s investigation the Autoriteits Persoonsgegevens (AP), which monitors infringements of privacy laws, said that the authorities had a duty to register their activities with the AP and inform the youngsters themselves as well, the paper writes.

The AP would then have been able to check whether the data collected were used in a responsible manner. A spokesman for the Amsterdam authorities told the paper they were ‘talking to the AP about the pilot and about whether or not actions are needed.’

According to new European privacy legislation comes into force on May 25, companies and institutions no longer have to register the processing of personal data with a supervisory body but unauthorised use of the data will still carry fines running into millions of euros, the NRC said. (DutchNews)

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Court of Guardianship and UNICEF host three-day training

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Court of Guardianship of St. Maarten and UNICEF will be hosting a three-day Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE) training on Friday May 18th, Monday 21st, and Tuesday 22nd from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm at the University of St. Maarten (USM).

The CPiE training stems from the post-disaster needs assessments UNICEF conducted shortly after Hurricane Irma in September and October last year.

The Child Protection assessment findings revealed the need for child protection to be mainstreamed and strengthened across the disaster management system in preparation for possible future disasters and the need to increase the understanding of Child Protection in Emergencies among key stakeholders in disaster response.

The objectives of the training are as follows:

  1. To introduce the key concepts on protecting children from future disasters
  2. To explore the global Child Protection Minimum Standards (CPMS) and situate them in the context of Sint Maarten 
  3. The development of a concrete action plan to improve children’s protection through their emergency preparedness by each participant/participating institution or department.

The Child Protection Working Group’s Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Emergencies handbook will also be made available to all the participants during the training.

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