Published On: Tue, Sep 22nd, 2020

MHF response to article StMaartenNews.com September 22, 2020

Dear Publishers,

On behalf of the foundation, our interim director Eileen Healy would like to rectify allegations stated in an article titled “Medical recognition divisive issue at Mental Health Foundation” published by StMaartenNews.com on September 22nd as follows:

It is not my custom to react to articles in the media that are attempting to damage our local institutions and specifically healthcare facilities. These articles not only threaten the extremely hard work of our St.  Maarten locals, but jeopardizes the care so urgently needed at this time.

The Mental Health Foundation is a government established foundation founded by the Ministry of VSA in 2000. Since 2006 it has been operational foreseeing in a need that at that time did not exist on St. Maarten but that was acknowledged to be an urgent need. Today, the Stigma is finally reducing and many are seeking care and preventing their illnesses from worsening.

In 2019, MHF managed to function without a permanent psychiatrist; in May a Big registered psychiatrist started to work but only for 20 hours a week. In order to supplement, MHF had to fly in 6 different psychiatrists in 2019 to keep up with the immense workload. The reason for this was the unconfirmed bureaucratic procedures, immense costs involved in attempting to get psychiatrists to come and work on St. Maarten.

There is presently no local psychiatrist available to work on St. Maarten, as Dutch BIG registered psychiatrists are very hard to come by because there is an immense shortage in the Netherlands. Caribbean psychiatrists will not be accepted by our local St. Maarten Government due to the so called BIG (unconfirmed) requirements that does not consider Caribbean qualifications.

After several replacements in 2019, Dr. Kitty Pelswijk was willing to leave her country to come and work as a full-time psychiatrist on St. Maarten with her family. The Suriname Medical University is acknowledged under the BIG law in the Netherlands and she specialized in The Netherlands to become a psychiatrist under the BIG Law.

The St. Maarten Government (VSA) after reviewing her qualifications issued an MB (Ministerial Beschikking/Decree). She was sworn in by the Governor and was issued an UNICO number and is acknowledged by SZV to provide psychiatric services on St. Maarten. She has an excellent working relationship with the staff and they agreed to her employment.

MHF provides employment to 48 Local St. Maarten Front Line Workers providing direct care and support services. For StMaartenNews.com to now suggest that the Minister established that she is not qualified; does not do service to the community, or the hard-working staff of the foundation. It undermines our local Health Care Institution and most of all hurts the patients in need of care from the foundation.

I sincerely hope that StMaartenNews.com will commence with news that supports our local institutions and before publishing; adequately verifies the information, instead of threatening the jobs of locals and degrading our local institutions.

And most of all before publishing, consider what the consequences may be of nonfactual articles made by Terrance Ray of StMaartenNews.com, does to the patients in need of care.

Thank you all for your understanding.


Eileen Healy


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