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Hospitals French and Dutch sides to work together to offer optimum patient care on St. Maarten

TUESDAY, 29 OCTOBER 2013

MARIGOT–Representatives of the two respective hospitals met Monday to discuss joint cooperation with a goal of signing a convention that will facilitate pooling resources to offer the best possible patient care in either hospital, regardless of whether patients come from the French or Dutch side.

This was the second meeting convened between the two institutions since the first one was held July 4.

Director of the Louis-Constant Fleming Hospital Roland Toussaint said the objective was for the two hospitals, although both have worked together before, to become “more professional” in their approach to health care for the benefit of all patients.

He added, as this was still at the very beginning of the discussion process, no specific topics were identified or discussed at length. However, emergency care was identified as a priority as well as the future possibility of sharing the expertise of hospital physicians between both sides of the island.

Representing the Dutch side was St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) General Director Kees Klarenbeek, gynaecologist Dr. Dorette Courtar and Head of the Public Health Department Fenna Arnell, who was representing Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Labour Dr. Cornelius de Weever, who was unable to attend.

The French side delegation included Toussaint, some physicians and new Director of Agence Regional de Santé (ARS) in St. Martin Pascal Godefroy.

On emergency care, Dr. Louis Jeffry noted it was very important to ensure that whenever a patient gets involved in an emergency situation on the French or Dutch side, for example, an accident or stroke, he or she gets the best care at the right time and with the shortest delay possible.

“Right now, we do come up against administrative hurdles, usually to do with insurance, that hinders the health care process,” he said. “We are one tiny island, but when it’s an international problem, it ought to be solved by the cooperation of the Dutch and French-side governments. We need to be thinking about how a French-side patient can get the best care on the Dutch side and vice-versa, for a Dutch-side patient on the French side.

“Solutions for reciprocal emergency care need to be found. Also, we don’t have the means to employ all the specialist physicians that we would like to have, but occasionally, we do acquire these specialists and I think it should be possible for these physicians to be shared with the Dutch side and vice-versa.”

Jeffry explained that cross border health care has been his mission for the past year and a half, and he has been pushing the Collectivité to advance cooperation with the Dutch side.

“Cooperation did not exist before to the extent that it can exist now,” he added. “You need expertise and knowledge and I have found that in former bank director Liliane Page, who has been working on this programme for seven to eight months now. She is tackling the insurance issues. By using her banking experience, she will be able to reconfigure what we need to offer for the best health care possible. It should be possible, if you live on this island, to receive health care in either medical facility, regardless of insurance restrictions or other issues.”

Jeffry said some changes have already been made and more will be noticeable soon. An agreement between both hospitals could be signed by the end of the year.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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