The decision to start with charter flights directly from Saba to St. Maarten vise versa as of March 4th stems from grievances filed by both our insured clients, as well as the medical practitioners on Saba and St. Maarten regarding the frequently occurring situation of non-availability of seats on Winair. This caused too much discomfort for our clients after having been referred for medical consultation and of treatment on St. Maarten and beyond.
Last year Winair adapted its flight schedule between the islands in the aftermath of the hurricanes Irma and Maria, resulting in a significant reduction of seats available on flights to and from St. Maarten. This discomfort often led to unnecessary stay overs for our clients whilst the hotel capacity in St. Maarten is still not optimal. Subsequently, the restricted availability of seats presents a serious planning problem for the referring medical practitioners on Saba for not being able to schedule appointments abroad for our clients in an efficient manner.
Another consideration which also led to our decision to implement these charter flights for insured individuals who, because of their physical limitations, cannot board and disembark comfortably on the aircraft provided by Winair. Since September of 2018 ZVK has been in close consultation regarding these discomforts with the board and medical practitioners of the Saba Health Care Foundation, as well as with members of the Executive Council of Saba and community leaders of Saba. In conclusion, we will continue using Winair for travels thru St. Maarten to Curacao and beyond.
Ground transportation on Saba
Regarding the issue of ground transportation; the pick-up service provided by Accessible Ventures for all insured on the island to and from treatment centers on the island and or to and from the airport in case of medical referrals abroad, was implemented as a ‘temporary measure’ in the direct aftermath of the hurricanes Irma and Maria. In accordance with the provision of claims for healthcare BES (‘Regeling Aanspraken Zorg BES’) insured individuals are entitled to ground transportation if they qualify, given the need and appropriate provision for care. In other words, it is their medical practitioner who may request for special transport and with prior approval of the ZVK. In addition to this, all insured travelling off Saba on medical referral receive an allowance of USD 30.00 to cover their expenses for transportation to and from the airport of Saba.
Our office in Saba has been for a while communicating this policy adaptation to our insured clients. They and the Saban community in general can be assured that the ZVK is constantly monitoring its operations and – if and when necessary – adapting these with the steady intention to provide an efficient healthcare service for all insured clients on Saba, Bonaire and St. Eustatius.