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Former director St. Maarten Medical Center Scot: Constitutional change was main reason SMMC expansion not achieved


~ Says: ‘It’s time for me to go’ ~

PHILIPSBURG–The uncertainty that accompanied the constitutional changes St. Maarten had been pursuing was the main factor responsible for the much-needed expansion of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) not being realised when the hospital was ready for this step four years ago.

This was the view expressed by former SMMC Director and Board Chairman Dr. George Scot, who said SMMC had had everything ready for the expansion in 2009, but authorities had been focussing on the constitutional changes.
Scot said during his farewell reception at Great Bay Beach Hotel on Thursday evening that he believed the “next step” for the expansion was the one thing missing at SMMC.

The fact that SMMC has not expanded its facilities has had a very negative impact on many things and that certain things had not happened because of this, he said. Scot said he had “wondered” and had many discussions as to the reasons SMMC was not able to achieve its expansion.

“We were ready at SMMC for the expansion in 2009. Everything was finalised for that next step; the last part of that process was that the property was transferred to SMMC. We had the hospital, we had a lot of money on our account, … we had zero debt – zero, we had our contractors in place, we had the plans.

“Everything was ready to go, but I think one of the problems, the main problem in this, was the constitutional change,” Scot told the guests, who included Governor Eugene Holiday, ministers, other dignitaries and a cross section of the community in the health care, business and other sectors (see related story).

“That change brought with it uncertainty and if a financial institution like a bank or similar to that doesn’t like something then it is uncertainty. We thought we had a good plan, they [the bank – Ed.] told us it’s a good plan, but [there was – Ed.] uncertainty and for that uncertainty they wanted a guarantee and a guarantee they wanted from the government.”
Scot said that in 2009 St. Maarten was on the verge of 10/10/10 and the Central and Island Governments “were all busy with the restructuring process. They were not involved, convinced that this was the right time for SMMC to take the next step. They were busy with other things,” he said.

Scot said the expansion was important. “It’s now 2013, 10/10/10 has passed and I think it’s important that all stakeholders start to understand the potential of a healthy SMMC – healthy as an organisation, healthy financially and the potential to become a very, very good hospital in quality care, not only financial. And that step needs to be taken and I wish everyone, especially SMMC itself, good luck in achieving its next goal.”

Scot opened his speech by saying the farewell reception had been “very strange” for him, because it had felt like a funeral. However, he said he was happy with the presence of everyone at the reception, because he felt it was “time for me to go.”
He said a hospital was a very difficult institution to manage. He said too that a lot of emotion was involved in a medical institution, because people were born and died there at the same moment, with the same staff, who have to cope with all these different emotions on a daily basis.

Scot was high in praises for the SMMC staff, saying they were SMMC’s most important assets. “The fact that we achieved all of this in a few years’ time is all because of the dedication and the motivation and professionalism of the staff of SMMC. And that’s my keynote for this speech.”

“It is very important that everyone recognises and understands the importance of staff of SMMC during the good times, but for sure during the bad times.”

Scot said he had worked at the hospital with “a lot of satisfaction.” “Of course we had a lot of stressful times, but it didn’t feel stressful at times, because we always knew that we would get out of it in a positive way.”
He thanked SMMC for the reception and said he had been very impressed with everything that had been done. “I feel honoured and privileged about the fact that after a period of 10 years people can still say such nice things about you. That feels good too.”

Scot had a turbulent last few months at SMMC before leaving at the end of December.

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