Healthcare: sharing skills and resources

The health authorities from both sides of the island met on Saturday morning in order to see how they could improve their cooperation.

The memorandum of agreement that the hospital directors from Saint-Martin and Sint Maarten, the Sint Maarten Health Minister, the Guadeloupe Regional Health Agency (ARS), Dr Louis Jeffry (Regional Health Observatory) and the Sint Maarten health insurance developed Saturday morning basically focused on sharing skills and resources. This preparatory meeting was held at the Louis-Constant Fleming Hospital in the presence of the representatives of the Collectivité and of the Saint-Martin prefecture.

"This is part of a very special context, which is the construction of a new hospital in Sint Maarten", said Dr. Louis Jeffry, member of the Regional Health Observatory (Caribbean Interreg Project). "At this key moment, it’s important to have a principle agreement on the involvement of the health authorities from both sides of the island in this project," explained Louis Jeffry. Since the interest and goal for the French establishment is to provide "a complementary and non-competitive offer". "We are committed to having a common governance for the whole territory", he said. "Workshops will be set up and will focus on several themes such as regulations, ethics, communication, the adaptation of legislation, etc.", added Louis Jeffry.

From a practical point of view, this agreement should allow both sides of the island to share resources and skills. In other words, it should ensure the complementarity of the healthcare between both sides of the island by allowing health professionals to treat patients from Saint-Martin and Sint Maarten. In concrete terms, a French patient will be able to receive treatment on the Dutch side if the service is not provided in Saint-Martin, instead of going to Guadeloupe, and vice versa. "This does not mean that patients will no longer go to the Guadeloupe hospital", explained Louis Jeffry.

The authorities have two and a half years to implement these cooperation measures, the time needed for the new Philipsburg hospital to be built.

Nevertheless, the memorandum of understanding must be ratified by the Sint Maarten Council of Ministers before entering into force. It should be within a couple of days.




Estelle Gasnet