On Monday September 27th, the Honorable Minister Ottley and his cabinet staff visited the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation. He was welcomed by members of the board and the Operations Manager of the Foundation, Mrs. Bregje Boetekees. Mrs. Boatekees gave an overview of the origins of the foundation, which started in elderly care almost 50 years ago. From elderly and nursing home care, the services of the district nursing and later also the Sister Basilia Center. The Foundation has grown tremendously over the years.
In 2012, the islands first and only rehabilitation center was opened, offering a multidisciplinary care approach to assist clients to recover their independence after stroke, amputation, motor vehicle accidents or trauma, resulting in (temporary) loss of function. This care product is now operational for more than 8 years, and an evaluation of the medical data of these clients show that on Sint Maarten patients who lose a limb due to amputation are on average 15 years younger than those in Curacao.
With 13.4% of the Sint Maarten population suffering from diabetes; preventative and curative foot care is essential to avoid amputations. Dr. Spencer, who is a board member of WYCCF and active in the Sint Maarten Diabetes Foundation, invited Minister Ottley to attend the upcoming one-day mini symposium on diabetic foot care on Saturday November 13th, one day before World Diabetes Day.
Amputations are preventable and the DFS has for several years now arranged for a podiatrist to visit Sint Maarten, with the great support of donors to fund her airfare and stay. WYCCF is now in the process to evaluate the daily tariff of rehabilitation care, which was set in 2013 and is no longer covering the operational cost.
The Minister was pleased to learn that Sint Maarten has its first Hospice, located in the Sint Martin?s Home of the WYCCF. He toured this facility and was impressed with the warm, client centered approach of the team. Ensuring that persons who are terminally ill have a peaceful transition and are kept comfortable is very important, and with rooming-in available for family members, this is well organized.
Minister Ottley praised the foundation for being very proactive in their COVID-19 response. Not only to prevent infections among clients and staff, but also in the roll-out of the vaccination campaign and to assist the SMMC where possible. Vaccination coverage among the staff of WYCCF is now at 70.2% and the foundation continues to focus efforts to increase this further. In addition, staff is screened twice weekly via rapid antigen testing and clients can receive their visitors in an outdoor, ?covid proof? setting to ensure contact is maintained, in a safe manner.
The visit ended with a tour of the rehabilitation center and the elderly care department, where the foundation is in the process of constructing a therapeutic swimming pool. Minister Ottley engaged with several senior residents who were happy to welcome him in their home.