Minister Lee positive about field trip to Colombia

POSTED: 04/8/16 2:20 PM

St. Maarten News – Public Health Minister Emil Lee took a field trip to Colombia to check out the medical services referred patients from St. Maarten receive there. The minister traveled on his own dime and –at his request – received the same treatment in terms of transport and accommodation referred patients get when they travel to Colombia.

The minister visited Cali, Bogota and Medellin. “I met with six patients and the feedback from all of them was very positive,” Lee said yesterday.

The minister found that rumored extended stays in Colombia often have to do with incomplete medical information. As an example he mentioned a patient who traveled to Colombia for heart surgery but discovered on arrival that doctors first had to stabilize his diabetes condition and high blood pressure before they could perform the surgery.

As far as mortality rates go, Lee said that Colombian doctors told him that St. Maarten often sends patients that are in a very late stage of a disease. “Then it is difficult to expect a positive outcome,” he said.

The minister found that doctors speak excellent English and that the hospitals are modern. He also expressed his confidence in the cooperation between SZV and Covena in Colombia.

Minister lee found that patients from St. Maarten are not always well-informed about their destination. “They travel to Bogota and expect it to be warm, but it isn’t,” he said.

Lee wants to structure an agreement between SZV and Covena and host an annual meeting to review all referred cases.

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