Hospital will appeal decision in administrative court – Medical Center rejects higher supervision

POSTED: 09/13/12 1:18 PM

GREAT BAY – The St. Maarten Medical Center has reacted with a furious letter to the health inspectorate’s decision to place it under higher supervision. Attorney Maarten le Poole demands in the letter addressed to inspector Dr. Earl Best that the inspectorate rectifies this decision publicly within two days. The hospital considers the decision not valid and will not cooperate with the inspectorate’s demands.

“It is abundantly clear that the term “higher supervision” does not even exist in this context,” the attorney wrote. “The connotation of the term “higher supervision” is, as you should have known, extremely ominous and leads to widespread misconceptions and to a lack of confidence and motivation both internally and externally. Since the use of this term is therefore highly irresponsible, you are summoned to publicly rectify your earlier public statement indicating that the SMMC has been put under higher supervision.”

The anger with the health inspectorate is not limited to its higher supervision announcement. “The SMMC strongly takes exception to the fact that you have divulged your ill-advised decision to the local media behind its back, thereby creating yet another wave of unnecessary unrest in the community regarding the functioning of the hospital.”

Another sore point is that the inspectorate ignored an assessment of the hospital audit written by hospital Director Dr. George Scot. According to the letter, this assessment was sent to the inspectorate on September 7 and it included an improvement plan. This has been “deliberately ignored in the report as well as in the press release of September 10 (wherein the higher supervision decision was announced – ed.) whereby the erroneous impression was created that SMMC is not committed to pursue improvements.”

The attorney summons the inspectorate “to refrain from making further public statements while the issues have not been clarified and without first consulting SMMC, and from performing further acts which suggests that your office lets itself be used as a political tool.”

mr. Le Poole notes in his letter that the decision by the inspectorate “fails to refer to any ordinance, regulation or enforcement framework” as the basis for the decision to place the hospital under higher supervision. “This is all the more striking since your office was able and willing to provide a list of (supposedly) applicable ordinances and other documents to members of the local media.”

According to Le Poole, the ordinances the inspectorate mentioned in its press release cannot be the legal basis for imposing higher supervision and fines (for non-compliance) or for the closing of hospital units.

The SMMC has concluded that the inspectorate’s decision is “either contrary to written law or in conflict with general legal principles.”

The hospital also reproaches the inspectorate for violating the requirement of due care. It refers to “the unprofessional way in which the draft report containing many factual errors was circulated, the lack of hearing both sides and the unreasonable refusal of the SMMC’s request for a short extension of the term for providing a reaction to the report.”

Contrary to what the inspectorate has stated, the SMMC is of the opinion that the higher supervision decision can be appealed under the ordinance on administrative justice (the Lar). The hospital intends to file such an appeal within the shortest possible term and it will ask the court to suspend the inspectorate’s decision pending the handling of the appeal.

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