A team consisting of 30 healthcare professionals from Aspen Medical International (AMI), a global provider of innovative healthcare solutions, has been on St. Maarten since April 8th, 2020 with the objective to assist St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) in its COVID-19 response.
AMI’s assistance to St. Maarten is for a large part being funded by the Dutch Government as part of overall relief efforts provided to St. Maarten as it deals with the COVID pandemic. Ashley Bryan, AMI’s Project Manager of the team that is on the ground on St. Maarten, provides an update roughly a week after the team’s arrival.
There has been some concern among the general public of St. Maarten that the AMI team might pose a COVID risk to the local population seeing that the team originates from the USA and the widespread community transmission in many US areas.
In assuring the general public, Bryan confirms: “All AMI team members had COVID symptom screening and a rapid COVID test the day before leaving the USA for St. Maarten to ensure the safety of the communities on St. Maarten and all tested negative. Upon arrival, all AMI staff members had a COVID PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing done through SMMC prior to stepping foot in the hospital. Again, all of these tests were negative. It is very safe to say that we do not pose any threat in terms of imported COVID to the community of St. Maarten”.
Giving an overview of the AMI team on St. Maarten and AMI as a rapid response healthcare organization, Bryan stated: “I am a board-certified nurse practitioner and nurse executive with extensive healthcare and military leadership experience. AMI is a rapid response healthcare organization that provides medical services to international aid organizations, humanitarian concerns, the private sector and government agencies in a wide range of remote and challenging environments. AMI is physician owned and led and has provided medical personnel and services for over 14 years to some of the most remote and challenging environments in the world. Since our inception, we have delivered over 5.000 medical personnel and countless healthcare solutions to over 70 clinical and hospital settings on 4 continents. Our AMI team on St. Maarten consists of 30 healthcare professionals in total: 6 skilled critical care physicians, 4 nurse practitioners, 1 physician assistant, 1 registered nurse who are specialized in critical care and 3 respiratory specialists. Additionally, our team has 4 paramedics, 3 Emergency Medical Technicians, 2 Certified Nursing Assistants, 3 case workers (psychologist and social workers), 2 ward administrators and 1 project manager”.
Asked about AMI’s role in SMMC’s COVID response, Bryan explained: “AMI’s role is to serve as an extension of the hospital roster by embracing all SMMC standard operating procedures, protocols and established best practices. Our group will staff and support the 6-bed ICU Hospitainer unit (located across SMMC) but are always available to redirect our support at the direction of SMMC officials”.
Bryan further elucidates on AMI’s first interactions with the SMMC team and their general impression of SMMC: “AMI has been extremely impressed by the staff at SMMC and the progress they have made in combatting this pandemic. From the administrative staff that helped coordinate our arrival and logistics, to the hospital leadership and physicians that have been tirelessly preparing new COVID protocols and procedures: it is evident that the staff at SMMC are excellent. Dr. Holiday, Dr. George and Dr. Nadery have been very helpful in getting our physicians integrated into the system and preparing the ICU hospitainer for our use.”
Asked whether there was something she wished more people knew about COVID-19, she said: “What I want people to know most is how great a job the St. Maarten Government is doing in reducing the spread of this disease. St. Maarten has been diligent in maintaining isolation which is the major contributing factor to keeping the number of cases from exploding. While it is uncomfortable to remain isolated at home, remember this is saving lives. Due to people being in isolation, I want to urge people to not socially distance but to physically distance. What I mean by that is that you should continue to have social interactions with friends and family through remote mechanisms such as telephone and video conferencing. We are all in it together and we need to support each other, while protecting each other by maintaining physical distance of at least 2 meters”.
Responding to how long she estimates AMI would be on St. Maarten for, Bryan stated: “We are not sure exactly how long AMI will be here however, I can speak for myself and many of our staff members that we would be happy to stay as long as the wonderful citizens of St. Maarten will have us. This is an incredibly beautiful island with amazing people that we are fortunate to get to work with”, Bryan concluded.
Aspen Medical was founded to provide the highest quality healthcare in remote, challenging or under-resourced areas where there is high demand. AMI works with its clients to identify their requirements and provide targeted, efficient, innovative and guaranteed solutions to healthcare challenges. This focus on the final outcome is unique in the outsourced healthcare market anywhere around the world.