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White and Yellow Cross opens Physical Rehabilitation Centre on St. Maarten


ST. JOHNS–The White and Yellow Cross Foundation made a major stride forward on Saturday with the official opening of a new physical rehabilitation centre.

The centre was built by Liccom as an addition to the existing St. Martin’s Home. It has two bedrooms, each equipped with two beds and a bathroom with shower and hot tub with jets.

The centre is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment. For example, there are electrical beds and special mattresses to prevent bedsores and lifts to transfer clients in a safe and comfortable way.

This first rehabilitation centre in St. Maarten will cater to clients staying at the facility and those visiting from home for therapies. For example, a special cardio-rehab programme will be offered with physical therapy and other paramedical services for those who have had a cardiac event, like bypass surgery or a heart attack.

A client can be admitted after a stroke, amputation, accident or other trauma to learn to become independent again or to live with a permanent handicap, White and Yellow Cross official Bregje Boetekees said on Sunday. Admission will be funded by the national insurance programme AVBZ fund, managed by the Social and Health Insurance.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Paralympics athletes who participated in the tennis tournament that was part of the Awareness Week for the Disabled were among those in attendance at the event.

Wescot-Williams told attendees that the opening of the facility represented an important step forward in offering top-quality care. She congratulated the White and Yellow Cross Foundation for the opening.

White and Yellow Cross Physical Therapist and Paramedical Services Coordinator Petra Peut told guests she had been very surprised when she had come to St. Maarten 20 years ago, to find that there was no rehabilitation centre located on this island.

She said when she changed her working environment in 2000 and started as Physical Therapist for the White and Yellow Cross Foundation, her wish to complete a local rehabilitation centre started off with the monthly visits of an Orthopaedic Instrument Maker, Laurens Konter, providing prosthesis and orthotics (splints, corsets and braces) to White and Yellow Cross locations.

“We also invited the rehabilitation physician from the Monseigneur Verriet Institute to that location and on a two-monthly visit this became a set schedule. Working closely together with the present physical therapists on the island we could at least determine the patients capable and willing to undergo a rigorous rehabilitation period. Still, this had to take place in another location than St. Maarten,” she said.

“In our new location here in St. John’s Estate, we did cater to some of the need for rehabilitation already. Whenever there was a small opportunity, an available bed, we did on a small scale provide for the wish of a patient to stay in their own environment to undergo a rehabilitation programme.

“It is not only physical therapy that makes this happen: our nurses deserve my compliments for this; it is a very different way to provide nursing care to a rehabilitation patient than to one of our regular clients in our nursing home facilities or elderly care.

“Our last patient for rehabilitation came in with a double lower-leg amputation, in an ambulance, and drove back home last week in his own car with two prostheses. He is determined to continue his work shortly as a casino employee. Of course, we discussed the need of our own rehabilitation unit for many years, but there were many obstacles in the way,” she said.

“Now, however, the time was right and here we are tonight for the opening of this very facility. My wish came true – a very beautiful, well-designed, small but professional centre. But building blocks do not make this Centre complete. It is the people that will make this work,” she said.

“It might be tempting to regard physical rehabilitation therapy as a modern concept, but its practice actually dates back thousands of years. In fact, Hippocrates, also known as the “father of medicine,” advocated physical rehabilitation with innovative therapies of his time, including hydrotherapy and massage.

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