Health workers union wants end to negative campaign

POSTED: 09/13/12 1:03 PM

St. Maarten – The Windward Islands Health Care Union Association (WICHU) says that it is closely monitoring what it called the “unraveling of health care on our island and our hospital,” in a press release it issued yesterday.

The union questioned how exactly higher supervision is applied to the hospital and which qualified health professionals are going to do the supervision?

“Is the Inspectorate suggesting that the Emergency Room, Operations Room or patient wards will be closed, even temporarily? Is anyone even considering the repercussions such actions would have on our population and visitors? Or are these statements merely scare tactics designed to bring fear into the management of SMMC and its lawyers,” the union questioned.

“That the political body in the form of the Council of Ministers and the Inspectorate of Health should have authority for controlling that the institution adheres to basic quality and safety standards goes without question. The question being asked here is the manner in which it is being done. This tug of war that is being played out in the news media between the Minister of Health and the Board of Directors and Supervisory Council of the St.Maarten Medical Centre is having a great negative effect on health care in general and particularly on staff of the SMMC.

Patients coming to the hospital say things like “I hope I will walk out here alive.” They and their families question and mistrust directives and treatments by staff members.  “You sure, you know what you’re doing, why do I have to do that?” The trust that is essential to enable staff to help their patients is now badly damaged. Staff members fear retribution and attacks on their person. How can this possible be productive for patients, staff or health care,” the union said of the current situation at the island’s lone hospital.

It added that Democratic Party parliamentarian Roy Marlin “is right that the Island Government has helped the St.Maarten Medical Center in its fight over the years to recover from financial and hurricane disasters. The nurses and staff were clamoring at their doors seeking help at that time and remain grateful that such help was provided. However there is a good reason why the Island Council voted in the Corporate Governance Code back in 2009. Leaving a vital organization open to political manipulation, especially when parties constantly change power, has proven to be disastrous in other countries, including Curacao.”

The union also supports the Today newspaper Opinion of September 11 headlined Recipe for Disaster.

“There are proper and responsible ways available for the Council of Ministers to effectively govern and control the institution within the boundaries set out in the Corporate Governance Code. Give the institution proper time to address and handle the issues as brought forward in the Inspectorate Report in a professional and responsible manner. This negative media campaign can have no winners and the population and staff of the medical centre are the ones who are suffering. It has got to stop,” the union stated.

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