Published On: Sun, Sep 20th, 2020

Interim Director responds to publication about MHF turmoil

Dear Publisher,

As interim director I would like to inform the general public of St. Maarten that the reason for my resignation is the fact that per September 30th, 2020, my contract ends.

After hurricane Irma I was asked to return for a year because the post of Director had become vacant and management support was urgently needed. It has been 3 years now and the contract by law can no longer be extended. In accordance with the procedures of the foundation I tendered my resignation.

Dr. Pelswijk so far has done and enormous job during COVID19, within one-week MHF had safety protocols that staff had and participated in developing and that were in accordance with Governments mandates and laws.

MHF has not been successful in finding a director regardless of the recruitment efforts in the midst of a COVID19 pandemic. The management team with Dr. Pelswijk as interim director have agreed to continue the management of the foundation for one year.

MHF is a unique but relatively small organization that is providing care to vulnerable persons in our community. The foundation has always been aware of its role in the community and the importance of the care needs of its patients.

With limited means and budget, the foundation has developed and grown into an acknowledged health care facility. In order to reach its goals, the foundation has developed protocols and procedures that are guidelines for the staff. The foundation has an organization structure that outlines the formal and informal lines of communication.

The foundation in accordance with the Laws on St. Maarten, develops a multi annual plan for 3 to 4 year outlining the future developments, produces timely financial and social year reports balancing its income with the services provided for in order to account to its financiers.

All staff when entering into the foundation not only receives a job description and a labor agreement, they also sign off for having received and read the rules and regulations of the foundation. Protocols, rules and regulations all action lists and meeting minutes are available digitally to all staff. Agendas are based on the agenda points submitted by the staff. Staff are evaluated twice per year and are given the opportunity to formulate their own goals per year.

Staff that does not adhere to the protocols and rules and regulations are spoken to, receive written notices and if that does not work receive warning letters.

When certain staff members decide to blatantly refuse to adhere to the laws of the country and the protocols the organization thus endangering the patient care and the safety of the staff, this is seen as a serious offence and staff is disciplined by means of a warning letter.

It is the duty of the foundation to safeguard the quality care provided and to the protect its staff to the best of its ability.

That this is now labeled as creating a culture of fear and structural long-lasting mistreatment and abuse of power is sad. Please note that initially these complaints were filed anonymously, meaning writers were not willing to identify themselves. If they were supported by the majority of the staff signatures could have been added from all MHF staff supporting the accusations but this did not happen.

Again, a small group of staff is approaching the media without staff support is sad.

I would like to confirm to the community of St. Maarten that it is not the majority of the staff and that there is no turmoil in the foundation. Care is being provided as best we can during a COVID19 pandemic and under very difficult circumstances.

Eileen Healy
Interim Director
Mental Health Foundation


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