De Weever flayed by union for criticizing SMMCPOSTED: 08/21/12 11:48 AM
St. Maarten – The Windward Islands Health Care Union Association (WIHCUA) which has membership in St.Maarten, Statia and Saba, has reacted to the statements made by Public Health Minister Cornelius de Weever that the St.Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC), in lieu of a report being compiled by the Inspectorate of Health, leaves much to be desired.
The union on Monday sent a letter to the media questioning whether the minister’s remarks were a personal vendetta against SMMC Director Dr. George Scot.
“If there is a personal vendetta going on between the minister of health care and the SMMC director, please deal with that person to person and do not generalize with the medical center. When a minister can go and put confidential information in the news-media, makes us wonder about the level of integrity this minister has for the people of St. Maarten and particular the staff of his medical center,” the letter stated.
The union added: “When our honorable minister can go out and “cry down” the care of the only hospital on Dutch Sint Maarten with his type of information, then it leaves us with no other alternative than to wonder what is the capability or secret agenda of our honorable minister of health.”
Last Thursday, Minister de Weever released a critical statement about the situation at the St. Maarten Medical Center, where two patients passed away during or after surgery. De Weever called the situation unacceptable and stated that the supervisory council and the board of directors “have fallen short of their full responsibilities.”
De Weever’s statements came hours after sixty-two-year-old dialysis patient Ruth Olivacce, the sister of parliamentarian Silvia Olivacce-Meyers, died at the SMMC after undergoing an operation to remove a catheter that was placed near the region of her clavicle.
“I was informed yesterday of two more patients who passed away in the SMMC while or after receiving surgical treatment. Seven cases have been reported by patients, family members or medical professionals and investigated by the Inspectorate of Health Care. However, the SMMC has not reported accidents and incidents with mortal consequences and/or a higher rate of complications to the inspectorate. That is mandatory,” de Weever said, adding that “The Council of Ministers received a briefing by the Inspectorate of Health Care indicating that a lot needs to be corrected in a short time to drastically improve the quality of care in this institution. The Inspectorate of Health Care is in the final stage of its official report on the SMMC, but based on the past events and the preliminary findings, I am strongly of the opinion that there is much left to be desired.”
The Democratic Party faction in parliament has since called for an urgent meeting of SMMC staffers and Minister de Weever to answer questions regarding the level of care and the state of affairs at the institution. That meeting is expected to take place sometime this week.
The WIHCUA said that hospital staffers were tired of being berated even while functioning with limited resources. The facility, a foundation, has been lobbying for financial assistance to expand its operations for a while now. The expansion is expected to lead to a full time interventional radiologist being on the payroll and consistent visits by a vascular surgeon to service dialysis patients. The facility has often come under fire for what many considered less than optimal care. During the Inter-parliamentary Kingdom Conference held here in January Dr. Scot identified the many challenges his foundation faced in providing optimal care to the population with limited funds.
The hospital has also sought financing for its expansion project from SZV and APS pension fund. De Weever said last week that although he was unaware of who the other creditors were for the medical centre’s expansion, at least one creditor, SZV, indicated that the hospital needed to provide more financial information.
Minister de Weever, who has been very supportive of free market health care and medical tourism, in February also publically, criticized the medical centre after a less than satisfactory personal experience of waiting in a long line for emergency care.
“Staff has been working to keep the St. Maarten Medical Center functioning; maintaining quality care. We have been recruiting and attracting young people of St. Maarten studying abroad to come back home and work for their island’s hospital. This particular statement by our Honorable Minister, Cornelius De Weever will surely have an impact on the decision making of our youth returning home to work for this institution,” the medical sector union said.
The union also provided an email correspondence it says was sent from Inspector General Dr. Earl Best to Dr. Scot concerning information published in the media about an Inspectorate of Health report on the SMMC. That report is still to be finalized but a brief summary of its draft was provided to Minister de Weever last Tuesday.
“As far as I know, the draft report isn’t even ready and indeed hasn’t been sent to you yet.
On specific request of the minister of health, I have given a brief verbal preliminary overview to the COM (Council of Ministers) on last Tuesday on our hard findings. During this COM meeting I specifically mentioned that once the draft report is ready it has to be reviewed by the SMMC first before compiling the final report to be released. I am not responsible for whatever story is made up in the media and I regret this as much as you do. By next week you will receive the draft report,” Dr. Best is said to have written to Dr. Scot.
“Where was our present Minister Doctor Cornelius De Weever from since 1993? SMMC has been upgrading its personnel, whereby SMMC also played an important role in upgrading the White and Yellow Cross, Ambulance, Sector Health Care (divisions). To date SMMC will produce 20 registered nurses in June 2013 and they are hailing from SMMC, Ambulance, White and Yellow Cross and Statia. Please also inform the people of St. Maarten during your time at the St. Maarten Medical Center,” the union charged the public health minister.