|‘Government played Sehos a nasty trick’|
|Thursday, 21 February 2013 09:02|
WILLEMSTAD — The Schotte-cabinet played the St. Elisabeth Hospital (Sehos) a nasty trick, said chairman of the board of Sehos, Javier Hernandez, in the Parliament this morning regarding the pressure tank donated by Venezuela that never became operational.The chairman of the board explained the developments around the pressure tank saga. For the first time, he publicly pointed at the former cabinet. According to Hernandez, the former minister of Health, Jacinta Scoop-Constancia (MFK), informed the hospital that the pressure tank was a donation from Venezuela. On March 16th 2011 he was invited for a festive meeting at the WTC. To his surprise he had to sign an agreement between the government, the Medical Center Curaçao and the Sehos. Although he wasn’t happy with this, he signed because he felt he was being put on the spot. Afterwards he stated that the signature of only one director on the document is insufficient. A document is only valid with the signature of two directors. Nevertheless, the government continued with the plan to place the pressure tank on the premises of Sehos. The government used 300,000 guilders from Sehos’ subsidy to build a bunker for the pressure tank. A contractor began the work late 2011. At that time the hospital still assumed it would get the pressure tank.
On July 19th 2012 Hernandez was called to the office of former minister Scoop-Constancia, where he was told the pressure tank was not a gift. “The government had played us a nasty trick (pasa nos un fastball)”, said Hernandez. “We were always told it was a gift and suddenly it wasn’t.” The pressure tank was inaugurated on July 27th. At that moment the hospital and the Medical Center reached at an impasse.
In August 2012 the hospital received a letter from the then inspector general of Health, Ben Whiteman, and now Minister of Health. He informed the hospital that it could not back out of its responsibility because the pressure tank was on the hospital’s premises although technically speaking the pressure tank was from the Medical Center. “At that moment we were in the process of reaching an agreement with the Medical Center but when we received the letter we concluded we couldn’t assume that responsibility. That’s why the Sehos didn’t sign”, said Hernandez.
On September 19th the hospital had a meeting with medical insurer SVB in which Sehos stated it would not sign the agreement. This was the state of affairs until the shift in cabinet. Early this year the hospital sent a letter to the Medical Center Curaçao. The company was given two options: either Sehos purchases the pressure tank at a reasonable price or the Medical Center removes the pressure tank.
Government played Sehos a nasty trick
According to Hernandez, the most elegant solution is that the government institution, which purchases medical equipment for Sehos, buys the pressure tank. However, as the Medical Center refuses to sell, the hospital will institute summary proceedings.
In the meantime, Sehos received a hyperbaric chamber from the NASA, through the agency of a local company. This hyperbaric chamber is already on the island. Sehos only has to pay the transport costs.
After Hernandez gave his account, PNP-parliamentarian Humprey Davelaar took the floor. He wanted to know from Minister Whiteman if there is a question of a wrongful act by the government. He therefore urged to give parliamentarian Scoop-Constancia, who had pulled this project as former minister of Health, additional speaking time. After all, Hernandez accused her of misgovernment. After Davelaar had had his say the public meeting was adjourned so that documents on the subject could be handed out. However, the government was unable to collect all relevant documents on the pressure tank within that short period of time. Consequently, the chairman of the Parliament postponed the public meeting on the pressure tank until next week. The government is given until tomorrow at the latest to collect all necessary documents and deliver these to the Parliament.