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Lee orders independent audit of Medical Center

09 FEBRUARY 2017

PHILIPSBURG–Public Health, Social Development and Labour Minister Emil Lee has asked the Inspectorate of the Netherlands IGZ to conduct an independent audit on St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).

The audit will examine several areas at the medical facility including governance in relation to quality of care and patient safety; quality management at SMMC with key indicators being calamities, complaints, protocols, proper Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, etc.; patient safety; competence and functioning of specialists and divisions; and inspection of SMMC’s Operating Theatre OR, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and its dialysis facilities and blood bank.

The audit will be planned in consultation with IGZ within the next four to six weeks depending on the availability of a proper team, and will take about five working days.

Lee told reporters on Wednesday that numerous rumours, accusations and melee are contributing to a tense environment in the development and improvement of healthcare in St. Maarten. The current environment, he stressed, is unhealthy and not conducive to developing a proper structure for the improvement of the country’s healthcare system.

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs VSA, he said, is working on multiple fronts to improve the quality, access and affordability of healthcare in St. Maarten. “While VSA is working on the new St. Maarten general hospital, which is tied up in legal dispute with Vamed, national health reform and National Health Insurance (NHI), there is also a need to develop our protocols, human capital and capacity within our healthcare institutions. To work on these key points, we need to ensure that there is an environment of trust, openness and mutual understanding. Currently, I don’t believe that constructive environment exists,” Lee said.

“In order to restore a constructive and structural approach to the improvement of our healthcare system, I have requested that an impartial third party come in to conduct an audit of the SMMC. I believe that this audit will provide a clear and impartial path for all stakeholders to follow to structurally improve our healthcare system. While we are still discussing the scope of the audit, it is my hope that the audit will be as broad and all-encompassing as possible, including for example the referral process and continuity of care,” Lee said.

Additionally, there have been numerous discussions about working towards an accreditation programme such as the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation. A number of hospitals that Social Health Insurances SZV is currently working with such as Health City in Cayman Islands and FCV in Colombia have expressed interest in not only working together on referral patients from St. Maarten, but all working in a consultative and structural way forward, beginning with telemedicine, education, continuity of care and advice towards accreditation.

“SMMC welcomes the initiative of Minister Lee to bring in an independent audit of the healthcare provided by the SMMC. There is always room for improvement and having the opportunity to have the input of the Health Inspectorate of the Netherlands can be of added value. As a long-time professional in the field of healthcare, I have had lots of experience with the high quality professionalism that this organisation there brings to the table. Further improvement of quality of healthcare is hereby the ultimate goal,” SMMC Director Kees Klarenbeek said.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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