Published On: Thu, May 23rd, 2013

Jellinek clinic at Westpunt

Jacob Gelt DekkerA lot of rumors have been circulating on the island of Curacao with regards to the Jellinek clinic closing. I have been asked to explain the situation as I know it best.
Medical tourism has been a long standing initiative of the Government of Curacao and was structured for the island by a special committee under chairmanship of former minister Maurice Adriaens. The Ministry of Economic Affairs also provided a free tariff directive for medical tourism and for specific clinics after applications by CDC, Taams, Jellinek etc.. The minister even started discussions of a “ Free Medical zone” .
After years of discussions between Jellinek Netherlands--- later called Jellinek- Mentrum and now, Arkin---the island, a few doctors and Kura Hulanda Lodge NV, it was decided that Jellinek would enter into a long term lease agreement with the KH Lodge for 24-32 suite-rooms plus a swimming pool, kitchen, restaurant and offices, which were all especially and specifically constructed for that purpose by the Lodge. Note; Jellinek/ Mentrum/Arkin is Holland’s largest , oldest and most established company for care of addictions of all kinds. Smoking, drinking, eating, controlled substance and habital additions were the most frequent amongst patients.

In the Netherlands, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has a subsidy fund to stimulate Dutch companies to make investments abroad. Curacao, although part of the Kingdom, was considered “ abroad” and qualified for this subsidy, called the PSNA-subsidy. These subsidies were exclusively awarded to Dutch companies and not to establishments of Curacao. Jellinek/Mentrum/Arkin qualified, applied and received such a subsidy for a total of about Euro 600,000 and net after commissions about Euro 525,000. The applications can be found on line and have been circulating on social media for quite a while.

The entire operation of patients recruitment and screening, diagnostics and therapy, management and additional medical attention etc. was to be handled by Jellinek Retreat Curacao for their own account and responsibility from their Amsterdam offices. In addition Jellinek Retreat Curacao employed staff for housekeeping, security, restaurant and kitchen, physical therapy, management , travel, bookkeeping, collections and insurance relations. The operations started about 2,5 years ago and developed successfully, according to agreements and expectations.
Mostly patients paid for their treatment on Curacao out of their own pocket or in combination with insurance and self-paid. Supposedly ,in The Netherlands all patients enjoy worldwide coverage of health care and have the freedom to select their country of treatment. Insurance companies in Holland usually issued a budget in advance, or pay the equivalent of similar treatment in the Netherlands. The additional costs of treatment on Curacao versus The Netherlands was always at the expense of the patients and so were airline tickets and local leisure activities.

We learned through the press that a member of Parliament of the Netherlands, Tweedekamerlid Mrs. Bouwmeester of the Labor Party, PvdA, formally asked the Minister of Economic Affairs in The Hague to explain the awarded subsidy to Jellinek/Arkin for this project as well as the costs of compensations by Dutch insurance companies to the patients. After extensive and thorough investigations, the Minister issued an elaborate reply; all parties had acted according to PSNA regulations, within the limits of the law and in good faith. Nevertheless, Mrs. Bouwmeester decided to repeat her questions three more times. So the parliament of the Netherlands was informed again three times and in great detail about all aspects of the operations, after three extensive investigations it was concluded that all parties had acted according to regulations and the applicable laws.
Nevertheless Mrs. Bouwmeester started a smear campaign, this time, against Kura Hulanda Lodge of Curacao, who had no involvement in the project, other than being the landlord. According to Mrs. Bouwmeester, Kura Hulanda Lodge would have collected the PSNA- subsidy and the minister was asked to demand repayment.
Once again, after extensive investigation, the Minister replied that such was not justified and not within the offing.

A surprising development occurred when a party member of Mrs. Bouwmeester, Dr. Jan Huurman, became Health Inspector in Curacao. Huurman claimed that the medical staff of Jellinek on Curacao did not have accredited diplomas by hs department and therefore he ordered the clinic to be closed instantly and immediately.
Curacao does not have an accredited medical training facility and consequently all doctors on the island were trained abroad. Acknowledgement of all professional diplomas within the Kingdom as well as within the EU has been a long established legal fact. Supposedly, the autonomy of 10-10-10 required additional accreditation by autonomous Curacao, although the offices of the Inspector of Health of Curacao had no experience in processing such applications. According to testimony of the two Jellinek psychiatrists, they had presented themselves at the Health Inspector offices and were sent home with the message that such accreditation was not necessary and, in any case, could not be processed since no procedure was in place.

In addition, a Jellinek-patient , who had already left the clinic after ending her treatment, left behind a small container with sleeping pills issued on prescription by a local doctor of Curacao at the Sehos hospital. A nurse found the pills, all accounted for and unused, and locked them away in a medicine cabinet, hoping that the patient would come back to collect her pills. Supposedly on inspection, Huurman confiscated the pills and accused the staff of dealing in registered substances without any indication or evidence.
Huurman in his capacity of Health Inspector did not hesitate to go to local radio stations and taut his so- called explosive discoveries. In addition, he heavily criticized the Curacao Government for its initiative of Medical Tourism for which he did not see any purpose.
The highly exaggerated accusations, sensationally blown up in the Dutch and local press , even before a medical review board could consider the facts, were very destructive for the reputation of the Jellinek Retreat clinic. Dutch insurance companies decided no longer to allow budgets for treatment at Jellinek Retreat Curacao, or even to refuse the settlement of old outstanding invoices for a total of Euro 2,2 million. Jellinek Retreat Curacao had no choice but to close down its operations by 1-1-2013, leaving Kura Hulanda Lodge with an unpaid open long term rental agreement and dismissal of all local staff.

I have never experienced a more malicious, targeted and, most of all senseless effort to destroy a venture and investment on Curacao by officials. The benefit for patients, doctors, the medical establishment and its integrity, Medical tourism and the local economy has not been served by this effort; they were all hurt dramatically and totally unnecessarily.
At least, the relationship and conflicts of interest of Bouwmeester, Huurman and several insurance companies in the Netherlands should be thoroughly investigated.

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