A delegation of the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) paid a working visit to Saba on Wednesday, April 5. A meeting was held with both the Island Council and the Executive Council, also attended by Saba Cares.
SMMC Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday gave a presentation to the five Island Council members in which he highlighted the services provided by the SMMC, the investments that were made, and the plans, which include the construction of the St. Maarten General Hospital.
When the new hospital is completed in a few years, the number of beds will go from 80 to 104. The new hospital will also have a helipad which is very important for patients from Saba and St. Eustatius who are brought in by helicopter since this will save critical time.
Saba and St. Eustatius are very important to the SMMC, and for that reason, the hospital takes the islands into account in its plans, said Dr. Holiday. In 2022, Saba clients made 1,871 medical trips to the SMMC. Saba Cares Director Judith Meijer said this was 93% of the total number of medical trips that Saba clients made in 2022. There is a lot of contact between Saba Cares and the SMMC to discuss patient care and to talk about how things can be further improved.
The number of clients from Saba and St. Eustatius making use of the SMMC services has increased tremendously in the past couple of years, said Dr. Holiday. The SMMC is the preferred hospital care provider for Saba and Statia patients.
The SMMC has done a lot of upgrading and expansions in the past few years, much of which was realized with funding from the St. Maarten Trust Fund, managed by the World Bank. The hospital now offers care in 19 medical fields, which covers all general hospital services.
The SMMC now has more hospital beds, an expanded dialysis and oncology unit, expanded ophthalmology services, a pain management clinic, a new operating room complex, a new MRI suite. Medical specialist services will continue to be expanded in 2023.
Services to regional clients have been improved. SMMC’s International Patients Service is contributing a lot to service improvement. Making the services as effective as possible is a win-win situation for both Saba and St. Eustatius and for the SMMC, said Dr. Holiday.
During the meeting with the Island Council, several areas of improvement were discussed, such as customer service. The Island Council Members commended the SMMC for its services and the accomplished improvements.
Saba’s new Commissioner of Public Health Eviton Heyliger was introduced during the meeting with the Executive Council. The SMMC and the Executive Council discussed ways to further increase collaboration through positive engagement.