Published On: Thu, Jan 17th, 2013

Economic initiative ZenCity almost ready

WILLEMSTAD – The completion of ZenCity, the resort at Vredenberg focusing on seniors, is almost ready, said Jan de Wit from the project. ZenCity is a local initiative. It regards a park with bungalows and apartments in a safe environment equipped for senior residents. Acute medical questions can be answered immediately via the emergency room in the medical center.

In a press report De Wit responds to reports in the past weeks that put the project in a bad light. For instance, institution BZV reported that former minister of Health, Jacinta Scoop-Constancia, had wanted to invest 100 million guilders from the AVBZ-fund in ZenCity but that SBZV had successfully blocked this decision because it was considered too risky. De Wit: “BZV had approached ZenCity, asking what a purchase would cost. At the time none of the parties reverted to this matter.”

90 million

De Wit states that ZenCity is an economic initiative, in which 90 million guilders has already been invested, with a potential of 200 new jobs, and a project local senior residents could benefit from.

“The intended aim of elderly care is to let senior residents manage on their own. As the local elderly care threatens to become unaffordable a creative and decisive project was drawn up, resulting in a park with bungalows and apartments where approx. 400 senior residents can live independently by making use of the communal facilities”, said De Wit.

The project focuses on four target groups: the medical tourists, international pensioners, local pensioners and clients receiving elderly care locally.

De Wit recently visited a congress of Antillean pensioners living in the Netherlands. The interest to spend several months a year on Curaçao or to return to the island is huge, according to him. However, there are two problems: housing and qualitatively good medical care. Together with local medical institutions ZenCity can provide for this. Dutch medical institutions are prepared, under conditions, to finance this. De Wit: “In the project ‘Grandi ku Orguyo’ the medical demand for approx. 800 intramural clients was charted.  Due to the fragmentation of the medical care (20 institutions) and the lack of collaboration in the medical chain, there’s hardly any gearing of the medical offer and demand.”

There is no circulation in the chain because institutions hold on to clients who do not belong there. This situation also effects the circulation at the hospital. The result: a too expensive, not geared medical care. Zencity offers the possibility for temporary relief as ‘medical hotel’.

Budget-neutral

De Wit refutes the argument ‘if you don’t have to invest it will probably cost a fortune to live there’. “It was agreed that the exploitation would be budget-neutral for the government, and for the following reasons. The high quality of facilities increases the possibility for self-care. As the new financing is based on the level of care, the declining medical demand yields a saving in the medical costs.”

Part of the revenues from the medical tourism and the international pensioners is used for the local medical clients. This is possible because these clients can purchase the medical care on Curaçao cheaper than for example in the Netherlands. According to De Wit, it doesn’t cost the government anything extra, while the quality of medical care improves and the capital of the AVBZ-fund needn’t be used entirely for the local infrastructure. At the moment, several medical institutions in the elderly care rent the housing. Others have been given the housing whereby the maintenance costs are considerably less than new development, money that cannot be invested in the medical care. The people behind ZenCity aren’t philanthropists, but entrepreneurs who believe Curaçao is an ideal resort for medical tourism. From an economic perspective, the investors expect to recover their investments in ten years and in the meantime will seek new markets and products in the field of medical care and welfare.

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