Minister Lee discussed hospital with Minister Plasterk

POSTED: 06/17/16 7:27 PM

St. Maarten News – Minister Emil Lee (Public Health) headed a delegation that included Kees Klarenbeek, Director of SMMC, Henk de Zeeuw, Managing Director of corporate finance KPMG St. Maarten, and Perry Geerlings, Director of the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary to meet with  Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Ronald Plasterk,  Erwin Arkenbout, Director of Kingdom Relations and Dr. Rob Sardeman, Project Manager of the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare & Sport (VWS) and Healthcare BES as part of a working visit to secure support for possible financing by the Netherlands for the new St Maarten Hospital.

Previously, Minister Plasterk had expressed a willingness to consider offering technical assistance and possible financing for a new hospital based on a solid business plan that has the approval of the Committee for financial supervision (Cft).  The delegation met Minister Plasterk to update on the status of the new hospital project as the time is quickly approaching in order to make final plans.

During the meeting Minister Lee presented the updated business plan for the new hospital to Minister Plasterk.  He commented on the inclusive, open and transparent developmental process for what will be the new hospital.  Minister Lee explained that the process of planning the hospital has been inclusive and that it included feedback from many different stakeholders and experts. The plans are practical and based on the needs of the population.  

In 2015 a tripartite committee was formed between the Ministry of VSA, SZV and the SMMC to develop sound planning for the hospital project. “It has become the tripartite committee’s objective that this process will guarantee the integrity of a new hospital regardless of any political changes that may take place.  The people of St Maarten need a new hospital that brings affordable, quality and accessible healthcare close to home. Quality healthcare should not be victimized by politics,” Minister Lee said.

“I found the meeting with Minister Plasterk to be extremely open and productive.  It is my sincere hope that the new hospital project can serve as a model for improved communications and cooperation between the Netherlands and St. Maarten,” Minister Lee said. “As health care costs globally increase, synchronized cooperation between kingdom partners is logical. A new hospital will also benefit the residents of Saba and Statia and by default should help the Netherlands to better manage healthcare costs for the BES islands. This would be a win-win partnership.”

Estimates are that possible financing through the Netherlands because of the low interest rates and longer-term would translate into a savings of operational costs of 6 million guilders per year over the first ten years, which ultimately translates into a better range and quality of services available locally.  The increased capacity in health care locally available would diversify our local economy and create many high paying jobs.

Minister Plasterk said that “It’s a good thing that St.Maarten is improving its health care. The plan for the new hospital underlines this effort.”

In addition, the delegation inquired into the possibility of technical assistance to help the Ministry with items related to health care reform.  “We must always take care of present needs, while keeping a clear eye on what future developments will be needed down the road,” concluded Minister Lee.

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