Proof of the pudding

Proof of the pudding

Today’s update from management of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) on its new hospital project and related developments is most interesting. What is to be called St. Maarten General Hospital (SMGH) will have a capacity of 110 beds, almost 40 more than the current facility.

But investments have meanwhile also been made to improve and expand services at SMMC which, according to management, over the past five years helped reduce the number of medical referrals abroad from 5,800 to about 2,000. This amount is even expected to ultimately go well below the 1,000 mark.

When asked about the tariffs increase, it was argued that payments for sending patients elsewhere were far larger than what is now spent on the higher rates. However, no guarantee was given that further upwards adjustments may not become necessary once SMGH is operational.

Keep in mind that the uniform room price of recently opened Curaçao Medical Center (CMC) is double that of first class in the old St. Elisabeth Hospital and four times that of third class. Private insurance companies have already suggested this will require a premium hike, while the Social Insurance Bank SVB in Willemstad approved a budget for CMC that fell short of what it had requested.

If SMMC’s directors are correct, all that won’t be necessary here, because being able to offer more local specialists and treatments easily compensates for the additional cost. That certainly sounds good, but – as always – the proof of the pudding will be very much in the eating.