In their press release of July 24, the Stichting Patiëntenbelangen BES announced the following:
On 29 June 2013 Stichting Patiëntenbelangen BES organized a meeting of concerned patients and health-related NGOs to discuss cooperation among all groups regarding the proposed changes to healthcare coverage for the BES islands. Seven NGOs and several individuals attended the meeting.
The stated goal of the meeting was to hear from a variety of sources in the community about patient concerns with healthcare delivery and the plans to change the coverage package announced by Minister van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport earlier in the month. Minister Schippers has convened a work group to set guidelines for future coverage. However, the work group consists of healthcare professionals and government experts but there are no patient representatives in the group.
It is the position of Stichting Patiëntenbelangen BES that the voice of the patient must be included in any work group or discussions about coverage and care and Stichting Patiëntenbelangen BES intends to petition for inclusion in the work group. SPB will maintain contact with all healthcare related organizations on the islands in order to broadly represent the desires and needs of all patients in any discussions of changes in healthcare coverage.
The discussions at the meeting were wide-ranging. Some of the key issues for patients raised at the meeting were:
Advanced care in Colombia –better coordination is needed with Colombian doctors, hospitals and lodging to reduce the amount of waiting time and expense. There have been complaints that patients often but have their appointments changed and delayed once they are in Colombia so that patients must remain there longer, increasing expense and also the hardship on the patients and their families.
Lack of a supplemental insurance option – There is now no ability to purchase supplemental health insurance and many people who were forced to lose prior coverage in 2011 may not be able to purchase it if this insurance is restored due to their age.
Unnecessary waiting time for specialists appointments in Curacao and Aruba and the lack of coordination with travel agencies for timely airline tickets. Often appointments in the exterior must be made three or four months in advance but the travel company will not make the travel arrangements until just days before the appointment. As a result, flights are full by then and the appointments must be canceled and rescheduled.
Lack of a responsive complaint procedure and poor communication with patients and their families by the healthcare providers and system coordinators.
Problems with access to handicap transportation. Currently only people in wheel chairs or with vision problems can have paid access to handicap transportation which excludes people with walkers, crutches, sitting, standing and walking problems.
Lack of a transparent pricing schedule so that decisions can be made regarding out-of-system options e.g. Miami as an alternative to Colombia
Stichting Patiëntenbelangen BES pointed out to the group that its role is one of coordination as well as dealing with the basic issues of health care coverage. If people in the community have specific complaints, they are urged to contact Consumers Union (Unkobon) to lodge their complaints. Unkobon assigns each person a number to maintain privacy and they will also keep track of the types of medical complaints in general.
“By working with Unkobon, MiVaBo, Vereniging Nierpatienten, Fundashon Alzheimer, Prinses Wilhelmina Fonds and all the other organizations we hope to be able to bring the patient point of view to the table and make sure the patient voices are heard,” said George Soliana, president of Stichting Patiëntenbelangen BES. “Also, by working together there will be less duplication of effort.”
Patients with specific complaints are urged to contact Unkobon at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a help desk open the first Sunday of each month in Playa and Rincon, from 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm. Details about the help desk can be found at the Unkobon website: www.consumentenbonaire.com
Those individuals and organizations who are interested in discussing the major issues or the work of Stichting Patiëntenbelangen BES can contact SPB at SPB.BES@gmail.com