In 2017 before hurricane Irma, the position of Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) became vacant. Dr. Dick Wong Chung and two of his colleagues were in contact with SMMC’s Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday about covering ENT care on the island. Due to the hurricane, there was a delay with the implementation of the rotational group, but since 2018, SMMC has enlisted fifteen (15) rotational ENT Specialists from three top clinical hospitals in the Netherlands: Ziekenhuis Gelderse Vallei Ede, De Vijf Meren Kliniek Haarlem/Hoofddorp and Canisius Ziekenhuis Nijmegen, to provide ENT care to the people of St. Maarten.
The specialists work on a rotational basis of 4-6 weeks at a time and all have their own subspecialties. The subspecialties make it possible for SMMC to cover almost all ENT pathology excluding oncological cases (cancer of the ear, nose or throat) which are referred abroad. Due to the rotational nature of the ENT specialists, sometimes a patient requiring surgery has to wait until the specialist with the required specialty is on the island, however, the waiting time is generally not long. Having specialists with subspecialities is beneficial to SMMC as it allows the hospital to offer a wider range of high-quality ENT care.
One of the most common complaints the ENT specialists treat are upper airway infections and allergies. They also see a number of pediatric patients with blocked noses and nasal discharge that leads to interrupted or a lack of sleep. These pediatric patients often require adenoidectomy (the removal of a nasal tonsil) or tonsillectomy (the removal of the tonsils). They furthermore frequently treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which causes snoring or even an interruption in breathing throughout the night. OSA patients are treated in consultation with an interdisciplinary team of sleep specialists from the Sleep & Breathing Disorders Center, pulmonologists, and orthodontists who come together to discuss and propose a treatment plan. SMMC’s ENT specialists also often see complaints of the throat, issues with hearing, ear infections and dizziness.
SMMC recently purchased a device that performs radio-frequent thermotherapy (RFTT) of the inferior nasal turbinates. The device allows specialists to treat patients with blocked noses in an outpatient setting, eliminating the need for surgery under general anesthesia and admission to the hospital. RFFT is a new, painless procedure that allows patients to be in and out of the ENT clinic within an hour.
The group of specialists consists of Dr. Dick Wong Chung, Dr. Robert Scheeren, Dr. Maarten Gerdes, Dr. Aad Jan Beerens, Dr. Juliette Driessen, Dr. Edwin van Nieuwkerk, Dr. Wilbert Boek, Dr. Remco Cardinaal, Dr. Hubert Faber, Dr. Maarten Majoor, Dr. Jan Willem Sepmeijer, Dr. Joost Engel, Dr. Bas van den Borne, Dr. Rutger Plantinga and Dr. Bart Wensing, with experience ranging from five to twenty-five years and varying subspecialties. All ENT specialists are BIG-registered and studied and trained at University Hospitals in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Utrecht and Rotterdam). The specialists consider themselves lucky to be able to work on our beautiful island with friendly people and at a hospital with very kind colleagues. They would like the people of St. Maarten to know that they are here for them and ready and willing to assist with any ENT-related complaints.
SMMC is proud to have a group of dedicated and experienced ENT specialists in service and urges patients interested in an ENT consultation to make an appointment by calling the ENT Clinic, located at SMMC’s Care Complex at +1 (721) 543-1111 ext. 1345 or 1374. Appointments can be made from Monday – Friday between 8:00am and 4:30pm. SZV patients are requested to obtain a referral letter from their House Doctor (GP) or another SMMC Specialist.