Published On: Wed, Jan 9th, 2013

Sehos wants to buy pressure tank

WILLEMSTAD – The St. Elisabeth Hospital (Sehos) has given The Medical Center of Curaçao two options: either the hospital takes over the pressure tank, or The Medical Center uses the pressure tank at its own location in the WTC. Sehos chairman of the board, Javier Hernandez, stated this before the Dutch Newspaper Amigoe. As the letter was sent only recently to The Medical Center of Curaçao, Sehos is awaiting a reply, said Hernandez. “The pressure tank is a protracted issue that must be solved”, said the chairman of the board. “The hospital is in an awkward situation and we want to overcome the deadlock.”

With funds from the government institution that purchases medical equipment for the hospital, the latter wishes to take over the pressure tank, also named hyperbaric chamber. According to Hernandez, the value of the pressure tank is unknown. The hospital is yet to negotiate this with the owner and then discuss this with the government. Current Minister of Health, Ben Whiteman, stated as inspector general of Public Health that the pressure tank is the hospital’s responsibility because it’s on their premises. According to Hernandez, this doesn’t make sense because the pressure tank does not belong to the hospital. The latter suggested earlier on to take over the pressure tank for the symbolic amount of one guilder, but former minister of Health, Jacinta Scoop-Constancia (MFK), had not given her approval. She feared the hospital’s creditors would place an attachment on the pressure tank. Furthermore, the government had invested 300,000 guilders in the facility for the pressure tank on the Sehos premises. The problems were never solved under the regime of the MFK-minister.

Diving tourism

Hernandez stated the hospital is often asked about the ‘pressure tank’ issue. “Tourist organizations, but also consulates, want to know if it’s safe to recommend Curaçao as diving destination. Without a functional pressure tank there is no guarantee that it’s safe to dive here. As general hospital we are obligated to treat diving tourists with symptoms of the decompression sickness. Other treatments, like skin injuries with diabetics, will follow later on”, said Hernandez.


Initially, the pressure tank was a donation from Venezuela, according to former premier Gerrit Schotte and former minister Scoop-Constancia. It then appeared to be an initiative of four private investors from Venezuela, who wanted to operate the pressure tank under responsibility of Sehos. Under the medical care contract of the hospital they would rake in the money from the treatments for diving accidents and skin injuries. Sehos refused to be part of this construction, the more so because the Venezuelan medical specialists had to work under supervision of a specialist registered on Curaçao. Scoop-Constancia’s successor, Stanley Bodok, attempted to set this situation right. He wanted to follow the legal financing construction for health care institutions. Medical insurers only pay for the services of independently operating medical institutions approved by the government. That was not the case with The Medical Center of Curaçao.

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