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St. Maarten Medical Center Council calls ‘timing’ of minister De Weever’s request ‘remarkable’

MONDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2013

~ Will not ‘reconsider positions’ ~

CAY HILL–The St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) Supervisory Council will not “reconsider their positions” as requested by Health Minister Cornelius de Weever in a letter dated January 26.

De Weever has not responded to questions from The Daily Herald on Friday about his next step in this matter. He had asked the Supervisory Council, which has taken over the responsibilities of former General Director Dr. George Scot and two members of which reside off-island, to reconsider their positions. The minister had said that this bordered on mismanagement and negligence, and was unfortunate.

In a letter responding to the minister, a copy of which was sent to this newspaper along with a press release on Sunday, the Supervisory Council said “none” of its members believed there was any reason to reconsider their position, as each member had been and continuously was performing his/her duties in accordance with the articles of association of SMMC and any and all laws that apply to it.

The council said too that SMMC and its staff continuously were making all efforts to ensure that SMMC provided the best health care to its patients.

“We as a supervisory council are doing our utmost to ensure that this is done in the best possible manner and we hope that the Minister of Public Health will appreciate this and assist in this endeavour. You can always count on our cooperation,” the members said in their letter dated February 6, which was copied to the Council of Ministers and the Inspectorate of Public Health.

The SMMC Council said the timing of De Weever’s request was “remarkable” and it disagreed with the minister’s statements about mismanagement at SMMC. It said it had taken notice with “great regret” of De Weever’s letter request that “all” members of the SMMC Supervisory Council reconsider their position.

“Firstly, we feel that the timing of your request is remarkable, to say the least. As you have been fully informed by us, there is currently no managing director active at SMMC. Consequently, in accordance with the articles of association of SMMC, the Supervisory Council currently represents and is responsible for SMMC,” the Council said
“You state that it is imperative that the quality of health care provided at SMMC is safeguarded – it is unclear how your request exactly fits into this picture.

“Secondly, we do not agree with the incorrect statements made in your letter about the functioning of the Supervisory Council. Since you fail to substantiate any of the strong accusations made in your letter, we are not in a position to respond to this other than by stating that we disagree with the statements made. Please identify the matters which, in your opinion, constitute mismanagement and how the Supervisory Council in your opinion should have acted to avoid this,” the Council said.

“Thirdly, in your letter you mention that the largest investors have questioned the validity of the composition of the Supervisory Council hampering the further development of the SMMC. Please clarify to which investors you refer and how this would have hampered the further development of the SMMC in order for us to address this matter further,” the Council said.

In its release the Council said a number of statements had been made publicly again by De Weever recently regarding SMMC. “We regret this development. The Prime Minister Mrs. Sarah Wescot-Williams fairly recently requested all parties to refrain from publicly addressing any issues and St. Maarten Medical Center has chosen to honour this request.”
The Council said it agreed with the Prime Minister that holding public discussions was not conducive to further improving the care SMMC was are giving to its patients. The Council said SMMC’s dedicated personnel, patients who are residents of St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, the surrounding islands and the tourists it served had suffered enough of the “unfounded and negative public media display in recent months from the Minister of Health Care and certain members of Parliament.”

“The Minister of Health Care has now chosen to publicly discuss his request to the Supervisory Council of the SMMC to reconsider our position and has publicly referred to our response while taking this again totally out of context.”

The Council said it believed it was correct to forward to the media its official response given to the minister and said it would refrain from further comments, honouring the Prime Minister’s request.
“St. Maarten Medical Center will continue as usual to improve the care and services to all our patients who are in need of treatment, for their wellbeing and for the benefit of their families,” the Council said. “We look forward to doing so in collaboration with the Government of St. Maarten and the Inspectorate of Health.”

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