Minister De Weever reacts to SMMC-Director Scot: “No personal interest in medical tourism”

POSTED: 08/30/12 1:11 PM

St. Maarten – “Medical tourism should complement the St.Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC) and not compete with it,” Public Health, Social Development and Labor Minister Cornelius de Weever said yesterday as he responded to claims that he is more interested in medical tourism than upgrading the island’s lone health care facilities.
For yet another week, the war of words between the minister and the SMMC continued, with de Weever reiterating that the expansion of the facility has his full support and that he has no personal interest in medical tourism.
“I need to clear the air about medical tourism which I believe is a few years in the making and a few more years to be realized. We cannot and should not try to confuse the two issues so as to create a distraction from the current situation at the SMMC,” the minister said.
De Weever said that he will continue to “deal with the most pressing issues at hand” such as upgrading facilities at the institution and quality control.
The Public Health Ministry has also indicated its interest in having a member of the hospital’s supervisory board to oversee and possibly participate in decision making. As far as de Weever is aware, this has never been the case.
He still believes that inspite of heavy criticism; medical tourism would be good for the island.
“Medical tourism is an opportunity to improve health care for all of us. Instead of spending millions of dollars every year sending our patients away we can have our patients treated here and with the added benefit of having services at our tariffs; saving money.”
On Tuesday Today reported Director of the SMMC, Dr. George Scot as saying that those who are railing against the hospital are doing so for their own reasons that may be sought in objectives like medical tourism.
It would be up to Dr. Scot to discuss the details of meetings he had with medical tourism investors without the government’s presence, De Weever fired back on Wednesday.
The SMMC hired an experienced intervention radiologist and a vascular surgeon to treat dialysis patients. One of those patients died two weeks after complications from an invasive procedure. The patient’s death sparked outrage from certain sections of society and the doctors were mudslinged for performing a botched procedure, allegedly even without the necessary licenses to work here.
When questioned about this, de Weever clarified that the SMMC did follow the procedure in terms of submitting documents for the two Dutch doctors but should have done so earlier.
“It is my understanding that their information was submitted to the department however the department did not finalize the registration and approval for them in order for me to issue a ministerial decree. Given that these were planned operations as indicated in the Today newspaper today, the paperwork should have been submitted earlier.”
Whether the doctors were authorized to perform operations on St.Maarten without the requisite license is now being investigated by the Inspectorate of Public Health, Minister De Weever said.
However, the two specialists are working for reputed medical centers at the Free University in Amsterdam and the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and their qualifications are therefore impeccable. The St. Maarten Medical Center has a cooperation agreement with these institutions.

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Minister De Weever reacts to SMMC-Director Scot: “No personal interest in medical tourism” by

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