More Saba, Statia patients to St. Maarten, St. Martin

An increasing number of patients from St. Eustatius and Saba are being referred to St. Maarten and St. Martin for specialist medical care. In the first half of this year, a total of 1,108 patients went to the hospital in St. Maarten and St. Martin.

The medical referral numbers were stated in a letter that Dutch Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Edith Schippers sent to the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday. She confirmed that more patients from St. Eustatius and Saba are being referred to St. Maarten, St. Martin, and to a lesser extent to Guadeloupe. Fewer patients are going to Colombia for specialist medical care.

In the first half of 2015, a total of 629 patients from St. Eustatius were referred to St. Maarten and St. Martin. Of that amount, 570 went to the St. Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC) and 59 to the Louis Constant Fleming Hospital in Marigot. This is more than last year when 674 patients were referred to St. Maarten and St. Martin.

A total of 479 patients from Saba were referred to St. Maarten and St. Martin in the first half of 2015, of which 465 to SMMC and 14 to the Louis Constant Fleming Hospital. Fifteen persons from Saba were referred to Guadeloupe for specialist care in the first half of 2015, while 44 went to a hospital in Colombia.

In 2014, 15 patients from Saba went to Guadeloupe and 71 to Colombia. In the first half of 2015, 79 patients from St. Eustatius were referred to Colombia compared to 148 in 2014. Two patients from St. Eustatius went to Guadeloupe in the first half of 2015 versus four in 2014.

More patients from St. Eustatius and Saba were referred to the St. Elisabeth Hospital in Curaçao in the first half of 2015, respectively nine and 22. This is more than in 2014 when nine persons from St. Eustatius went to Curaçao and seven persons from Saba.

In total, there were 757 medical referrals of patients from St. Eustatius in the first half of 2015 and 562 from Saba. In 2014, 850 patients from St. Eustatius went abroad for specialist medical care and 537 from Saba. Medical specialists from Aruba, Bonaire and St. Maarten regularly visit St. Eustatius and Saba to provide care.

The total number of medical referrals in 2014 stood at 7,111 for the entire Caribbean Netherlands, which is less than the 7,849 in 2013. The cost of medical referrals in 2013 amounted to US $12.1 million. This is slightly less than the US $12.9 million that was spent on medical referrals in 2014.

Total figures were not available for 2015; however, Minister Schippers expected the 2015 costs to be lower than in previous years because medical treatment is now taking place closer to home which saves travel expenses. Patients from Bonaire are mostly referred to hospitals in Aruba, Curaçao and Colombia.

During her visit to Colombia in May 2015, Schippers reached an agreement with the Colombia Minister of Health Alejandro Gaviria Uribe to simplify the care procedures of Colombian hospitals for patients from the Caribbean Netherlands. This should result in a more effective and efficient care for the patients from the islands. The duration of the medical referrals is an important aspect of this agreement.

The Daily Herald.

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