Inspectorate to meet with St. Maarten Medical Center today on complaints


CAY HILL--The Inspectorate of Health will meet with St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) today, Tuesday, regarding complaints about the care provided to the patient of a gunshot wound over the weekend.

The Inspectorate contacted SMMC on Monday for the meeting. In a statement issued on Monday, following queries by this newspaper on Sunday about the incident, SMMC said a full account of the incident was not given.

"SMMC regrets to learn via the media that a patient or a friend on behalf of the patient indicated not to be content with the care given at SMMC. It is our objective to give safe, quality health care and that patients are satisfied with the received care.

"In respecting the patient's privacy, we can merely state that the article unfortunately does not give a full account of the medical treatment given, stated incorrect facts, and didn't indicate that upon the patient's return visit to SMMC, he was advised by the specialist to be admitted and he opted not to do this.

"We have contacted the patient and set up a meeting to personally discuss the events involving his treatment with him and his dissatisfaction," the hospital said in the statement.

"If a patient is of the opinion that improper medical care has been given, the patient can file a complaint with the Complaint Committee that is set up by the White and Yellow Cross and SMMC. The Complaint Committee is an independent body with third party members and members of both the White and Yellow Cross and SMMC.

"The patient can also choose to file a complaint with the Inspectorate of Health Care. The inspectorate is an independent department of government, which can investigate the complaint. The inspectorate, with the permission of the patient, will have full access to the patient's medical files, and can decide whether the given medical treatment was correct or not.

"Upon request of the inspectorate of Health Care, we are more than willing to have the provided treatment and advice given by our medical staff to said patient, reviewed for correctness.

"We also recognise that as long as there are uninsured persons, the payment of the treatment will be an additional stress factor, whether they are treated at SMMC or any other hospital. If a person needs urgent medical care, SMMC will provide this care and make payment arrangements with the person or his/her caretaker. Nevertheless, provided limited situations, a person can choose not to follow the doctor's advice.

"If dissatisfied patients choose the media to complain about the services they received at the SMMC, the SMMC cannot and will not reply in public to the details of the complaint, because for us the privacy of every patient prevails above giving our account of the incident," the hospital said.

"We strive to provide safe, quality health care and have put systems and committees in place to learn from unsatisfied situations and to minimize that these situations happen again in the future. As such we urge and welcome patients to inform us directly about their experiences or contact the Inspectorate of Heath Care. In this way their concern can be directly addressed."

On Sunday, a friend of the patient in question accused SMMC of negligence and of "robbing" the victim by presenting him with a high bill and not properly tending to his wound.

The friend, who spoke to this newspaper on condition of anonymity, said his friend was accosted by a gun-toting robber while waiting on a bus at the last bus stop on Back Street. The robber fired two shots, one of which hit the man in his leg, penetrating his bone. Although the victim put up a fight, the robber went off with the man's gold chain, the friend said. The victim was taken to SMMC for treatment, but the friend said the treatment was not up to par as the man's wound was still bleeding after being placed in a cast. The man was later taken for medical attention to French St. Martin, where, according to his friend, he was properly tended to for a fraction of what SMMC charged him. While the man received a bill of over US $1,200 at SMMC, he was charged over 240 euros (not 75 euros as inadvertently stated in an article in Monday's issue).