Schippers wants complementary heli-pad in St. Maarten

POSTED: 04/19/12 12:48 PM

Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare & Sport Edith Schippers (third from left) and her delegation listen as St. Maarten’s Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) Cornelius de Weever, who is accompanied by two of his Cabinet staffers, makes a point. (DCOMM Photo)

“We must invest in the islands”

St. Maarten / By Donellis Browne – Dutch Minister of Public Health Edith Schippers wants to see a heli-pad constructed at the St. Maarten Medical Center as soon as possible as a compliment to heli-pad she opened in Saba earlier this week. The Dutch minister believes this will improve care as patients can then be flown directly from the airport on Saba to the hospital in St. Maarten.
“Sometimes every minute is a matter of life and death,” Schippers said to stress the point.
In general Schippers is impressed with what she’s seen in Dutch Windward Islands and praised St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius for the great steps they are making. In Saba Schippers was particularly happy to see that they are investing to improve basic care. When it comes to St. Eustatius Schippers remains concerned that the hospital is “little more than a doctor’s office.”
“Both islands (Saba and St. Eustatius) have a long way to go. Cooperation between healthcare agencies on the islands themselves can also be improved,” Schippers said.
Later she’d add, “I’m very impressed with the very good condition of the St. Maarten Medical Center.”
Schippers also pledged Wednesday that the Dutch government will continue to finance improvements in healthcare on the islands. The government has already almost doubled the budget for healthcare and invested in things like the new heli-pad in Saba, new ambulances, upgrading personnel and new equipment that has already been installed in Saba and will be installed in St. Eustatius soon.
“Cuts in healthcare hurt everyone, but notice that the budget for the islands has nearly doubled from 30 million to 50 million. That must happen. We must invest in the islands,” Schippers said.
Some of the money for healthcare is being channeled to the Youth and Family Centers on each island as part of a focus on preventing disease.
Schippers and St. Maarten’s Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Cornelius de Weever also met on Wednesday morning and discussed ongoing cooperation in the field of public health inspection and patient care and the implementation of World Health Organization regulations and norms. Discussions on the latter topic include sending a request for assistance to the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment. St. Maarten needs specific assistance in implementing the norms around Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).

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