September 18, 2012 10:25 AM
PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) will be filing an administrative appeal to annul the decision of the Inspectorate of Public Health to place SMMC under "higher supervision."
SMMC's attorney Maarten le Poole of law firm HBN law
said on Monday that there seems to be no legal basis for higher supervision to be placed on the hospital and for the imposition of measures as a result of the supervision.
Le Poole said he found it disturbing that in all its communication on the SMMC issue, the Inspectorate had been silent about the plan of action SMMC had submitted to it a day before the higher supervision had been imposed. The Inspectorate had instructed SMMC's board of directors to present a feasible action plan within two weeks to address many of the critical issues found in its governance audit and thematic site inspections at SMMC. The Inspectorate said it would also be conducting announced and unannounced inspections at least three times a month following up on the action plan.
Le Poole: "SMMC had already submitted a plan of action concerning many points addressed in the Inspectorate report. The Inspectorate has been completely silent on this. SMMC had submitted the report on September 7 and the letter of higher supervision was issued on September 8 and the press release on the subject issued on September 10."
"There was no mention that on September 7 SMMC had already, on its own account because the hospital felt it necessary, presented a broad overview of the status of affairs at SMMC combined with a plan on certain issues. It is striking that the Inspectorate pretends that this plan does not exist and does not even mention it."
Le Poole said he knew the Inspectorate had received the plan, because he had seen correspondence in which the Inspectorate confirmed receiving it.
He said the hospital wanted the Inspectorate to provide clarification on the law used to institute higher supervision, as SMMC is of the view that there is no legal basis. Inspector General Earl Best has said that the Inspectorate has the authority to act if health care is in jeopardy.
Best has been asked to publicly retract his statement that SMMC is under higher supervision. Le Poole said too that while SMMC had responded to Best's correspondence, Best has not responded to SMMC's latest correspondence sent last week Friday.
In that letter, HBN informed the Inspectorate on behalf of its clients of its plans to file an administrative appeal. The Inspectorate was also asked if it was willing to suspend its current actions pending the outcome of the administrative appeal. Le Poole said this question "remains unanswered. We can therefore only conclude that the Inspectorate refuses to communicate with us."
Best had responded to HBN's first correspondence.
(The Daily Herald)