In order to address the challenges with medical referrals for the residents of Saba and Sint Eustatius and also the general sentiment among residents of Saba and Sint Eustatius about care on the island, ZJCN organized a seminar together with colleagues from Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), Sint Eustatius Health Care Foundation (SEHCF) and Saba Cares. The two-day seminar was aimed at improving the process of medical referrals on the Windward Islands.
Recently, much attention has been paid to the provision of care on the Windward Islands. It is evident that organizing healthcare on the Windwards Islands is a challenge because secondary care may not be provided on the island and patients are therefore dependent on medical referrals. Medical referrals for insured parties on Saba and Sint Eustatius pose logistical, organizational, and communication challenges, which makes it a strain on the patient. The seminar participants addressed these challenges with the aim of improving the process of medical referrals. Prior to the 2-day seminar, information was collected from the various medical institutions, OLE and OLS administrators and insured persons.
Some of the important conclusions from this seminar are:
- There must be better communication with the insured person, both from ZJCN and SMMC, SEHCF, and Saba Cares. There will be more cooperation in this area between the members of the chain in order to keep the public well informed.
- The ZJCN offices should be more visible and accessible on the islands.
- The care offered at SMMC must be clear and the referral to SMMC must be made without difficulty. ZJCN and the care providers on Saba and Sint Eustatius have agreed to start a pilot to make referrals to SMMC easier and more transparent.
- The protocol for medical evacuations must be unambiguous for all involved and reinforced.
- Information about access times for treatment and/or consultation with various specialists must be made available to the insured persons. The access time for a cardiologist, for example, is different from the access time at the urologist and patients must be informed about this. This information is currently not available.
During the week, ZJCN also organized meetings on both islands where citizens could talk to the complaints officer. In the near future, ZJCN will create more opportunities for citizens to make their complaints known in an accessible manner. It was also agreed upon that the complaints officers of SEHCF, Saba Cares, SMMC and ZJCN will work more closely together in the handling of complaints. A number of insured persons were invited to share their experiences with the participants of the seminar. These experiences helped provide the participants with a better understanding of the changes needed to improve the quality of medical referrals for the residents of Saba and Sint Eustatius.