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Published On: Fri, Oct 2nd, 2020

Video images of Caulette Julien still not released

CAY HILL — Nothing is known about an investigation into the death of 43-year-old Caulette Julien, who suffered from bipolar disorder, and was found lifeless in isolation at the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) on August 25, 2020. The MHF has video footage but has not handed these over to the victim’s mother. Julien’s family is left in the dark about the cause of her death.

The Public Health Inspectorate remains silent. Inspector General Earl Best says he cannot comment on the case. Caulette Julien was a patient of Dr. Kitty Pelswijk. According to various sources, Pelswijk informed MHF staff that no autopsy would be performed.

StMaartenNews.com reported earlier that dr. Pelswijk, who has recently been appointed as the new upcoming interim director of the Mental Health Foundation, completed her studies at the University in Suriname in October 2017. Last year she was sworn in as a psychiatrist in St. Maarten. Her education level and lack of experience do not allow her to register as a psychiatrist in the Netherlands in the BIG register, which serves to monitor the quality of medical care in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Successive governments of St. Maarten, as well as the current minister of VSA, have indicated that they want to introduce a St. Maarten version of the BIG ordinance.

On Wednesday, September 23, during the weekly press briefing, VSA Minister Richard Panneflek referred to the article and said that the intention is to introduce a St. Maarten version of the BIG, but that a decision has not yet been taken. He pointed out that the Minister of VSA is not responsible for the appointment of Dr. Pelswijk at MHF. “One has to understand that a foundation has its own board, and the responsibility of its functioning is by the board, not by the minister. The minister does not appoint within foundations,” Panneflek said. The minister withheld that all doctors, including those not BIG registered, are appointed by Ministerial Decree. Only then can they be sworn in by the Governor of St Maarten.

Before any medical professional can be employed in St. Maarten, an application for diploma evaluation must be submitted to the Ministry of Education. The evaluation process takes eight weeks. Once approval is granted, a Diploma Evaluation Report is issued. Then an application for the Establishment of a Medical Professional is submitted to the Ministry of Public Health. Applicants who are not BIG registered must submit a declaration of good standing from the medical board in their country of origin. When all required documents are approved, the Ministry issues a Ministerial Decree granting permission for the doctor to practice on St. Maarten.

In December last year, after the doctor’s Oath Declaration to the Governor of St. Maarten, MHF interim director Eileen Healy introduced Pelswijk to the staff as her newfound successor. Healy also appointed her protégée medical coordinator, while that position was held by psychologist Stephanie Haseth. When she went on maternity leave, she received an email from Healy informing her that she has been permanently replaced as medical coordinator by Dr. Pelswijk. Contractually, however, the position of medical coordinator belongs to Dr. Ilse Kelbrick, the most qualified doctor and psychiatrist within the MHF, BIG registered, with 20 years of medical expertise and several specializations. Interim director Eileen Healy has ignored her contract and does not pay Kelbrick her salary. Kelbrick is taking her case to court.

On Tuesday, September 18, the Mental Health Foundation was closed for two days as a precautionary measure warding off COVID-19. Meanwhile, Caulette Julien was locked inside the isolation cell. Her attending physician, Dr. Kitty Pelswijk, was at home in quarantine for two weeks. She had not asked the other doctors to visit her patient. After another week in solitary confinement, without a doctor’s check, Caulette Julien was found dead on the morning of August 25.

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