Eleven years ago, in November of 1990, some 500 people gathered outside the Hospital de Bruyn's meeting room to protest the fact that the island's only maternity ward had been laid idle by administrative decision makers in distant shores. The demonstration was occasioned by the visit of Prefect Jean-Paul Proust, the government's key administrator in the department of Guadeloupe. He had come to attend the hospital's board meeting, and to pronounce the official policy as to the eventual reopening of the maternity ward. In a perfect world, he would have told islanders that there had been a big mistake. He would have denounced the decision to strip the maternity ward of its right to function. He would have proposed that a solution be sought. Instead, the government's spokesman announced that the maternity ward might one day reopen if certain criteria were met. One day, indeed! The crowd was so furious about Monsieur le Prefet's announcement that he was forced to -ahem- make a sudden change in travel plans. His precipitated departure was facilitated by police escort.
On June 29, 2001, the director of the regional hospital agency serenely explained to the local hospital board that islanders should not count on the maternity ward reopening. Furthermore, the existing maternity beds would be snuffed out for good. This time, no one raised so much as an eyebrow. There was no street protest, no negative reaction, not even a heated editorial. In fact, one of the local newspapers praised the agency's decisions concerning not only the maternity ward but, more globally, the hospital's future as well as the future functioning of the island's healthcare system, as history-making breakthroughs.
It took just over a decade to wear down the islanders' feisty temperament and fighting spirit, to shift their expectations and the perspectives that create them.
St. Barth people, it is generally said, care deeply about their hospital. Built at the beginning of the last century on the initiative of a Dutch priest, Father Irenée de Bruyn, and with the substantial help of many local residents, it was the first and only hospital establishment to be erected in St. Barth. Renovated in 1986, the hospital has suffered from a chronic lack of means, and despite the health care services that it is able to provide, it has been consistently reproached for failing to meet the healthcare needs of islanders. Dissatisfaction mushroomed into rancor at the beginning of the 90's when administrative decisions made in Guadeloupe and in the motherland prohibited the island's expectant mothers from delivering their babes in their local hospital. The prohibition extended to all surgical interventions.
In time, the anger subsided, and residents learned to make do. Since 1991, women go have their babies in St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique, or on the continent. Patients requiring surgery go for their operations either in Martinique or in France. As for medical evacuations, despite the existence of a private insurance company that sells policies by guaranteeing its subscribers that, should an emergency health situation requiring an airlift arise, they'll come running. It's a hit-or-miss system, one that is understandably so, if you take into account that there is no designated air carrier to assure these airlifts, above all at night, when the St. Jean airport is closed.
Of course, over the many years, different solutions have been sought to resolve the problem. Fed up with the inertia and the steady stream of obstacles that both metropolitan and Guadeloupe public health administrators provided in such constant and steady number, local elected officials and a handful of civic-minded entrepreneurs decided to bypass the public health sector and go private. Dr. Stephane Ledée, a native son practicing dermatology in France, decided to return to his island to push through his project for the island's first private healthcare clinic. First accepted, the project was later rejected by France's then- health minister, Simone Veil, whose intentions to support the island's push for more effective healthcare crumbled when challenged by disgruntled unions and Guadeloupe's hospital sector. The good Dr. Ledée died from a stroke just weeks after learning that the approval for his clinic had been withdrawn. That was in September of 1994.
Subsequently, two other health care projects were elaborated, and both were eventually scrapped. With the path to private temporarily out of the picture, attention has now shifted back to the public sector. The decisions made during the hospital's board meeting on June 29 indicate that the French administration has taken a renewed interest in St. Barth. One of the principal measures announced by the director of the regional hospital agency is the creation of an out-patient surgical unit that would allow a certain number of the minor, elective surgical procedures currently performed in Guadeloupe and neighboring St. Martin to be available locally. The hospital's intervention menu would be limited to pre-scheduled acts, all grouped together to occur once a week. If all goes according to plan, elective surgery procedures may become available in one year. The other principal decision has been the opening of a peri-natal ward which would serve to prepare expectant mothers for delivery as well as to provide postnatal support. Despite these welcome improvements which will no doubt enhance island healthcare, the big question still remains: What to do about the medical emergency evacuations? As far as this eye can see, there's nothing in the looming horizon that even hints of an applicable solution.
On November 7, 1990, Jean-Paul Proust announced the creation of a "sophisticated system of emergency evacuations that would be in place within two or three months." Let's see. That would have rendered operational the promised and much-awaited airlift system sometime during the first quarter of 1991. More than 10 years later, why don't we skip the part about 'sophisticated' and move right on to the practical. At this point, we'd happily settle for a functioning, simple and reliable system of medical evacuation in times of need.
[Jun 27, 2013] Kay Quattrocchi is passionate about the Universe
Interview with Kay Quattrocchi by Panos Charitos
Kay Quattrocchi is an artist passioned about the Universe and inspired by the latest discoveries unveiling some of its secrets. For Kay Learning, discovering and opening our minds to other dimensions than those imposed by our five senses is a so...
CNN ranked Saline Beach N°5.
Is it possible to rank the world's best beaches? Of course it is. This is the Internet. Will everyone agree with their ranking, murmuring respectfully among themselves about how perfectly accurate every placement is? Maybe not. This is the Internet. But that's why they...
[May 18, 2013] Dream races at Les Voiles de St Barth
Performance and a friendly atmosphere.
For four years now, the Voiles de Saint-Barth has stuck with its simple philosophy of offering high class performance and a friendly atmosphere in the magnificent setting of the islands of Saint-Barth and has attracted increasing numbers from the yachting frat...
Preppy chic fashion finds an exotic backdrop on the island of St. Barths.
If you've opened your mailbox in the last week you've probably seen the latest j.crew catalog with a cover photo featuring the famous Eden Rock hotel ...well, the floating dock at least! The world class crew found inspiration...
[Dec 18, 2012] Victoria Secret Angels heat up St Barts
Candice Swanepoel, Erin Heatherton, Maryna Linchuk, Alessandra Ambrosio
The worlds sexiest angels hit the beaches of St Barths for a smoldering Victoria Secret photo shoot. The crystal clear Caribbean sea was the perfect compliment to the flawless curves of these stunning super models. Splashing ar...
[Dec 17, 2012] Kate Moss flaunts her famous figure in St Barts
Kate Moss on Gouverneur beach
Kate Moss was the perfect ornament for the stunning Gouverneur beach on st. Barths. The iconic super model joined famed fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier for a glamorous photo shoot on one of the islands most pristine beaches.
Still stunning at age 38 the Br...
[Sep 10, 2012] Rhony and the last hurrah on Island!
Last day in St. Barths.
Aviva just couldn't give it up! Good thing they were able to escape for a classic St barths lunch at the nearly untouched Le Tamarin. Carole is shocked that the restaurant has not changed in 20 years! The traditional beauty of St. barths is well and alive at this eclectic ge...
[Sep 3, 2012] The Real Housewives of NYC more fierce than hurricane Issac!
RHONY continue to sizzle on the island of St barths.
Come one come all...Looks like Sonja is going to get some action of her own tonight! LuAnn's not the only one who can speak the language of love...and all is fair on this sexy tropical paradise.
Villa Dunes is turning into quite the love shack...
Fabulous, Sexy, live in the moment place!
The Real Housewives Of New York all agree St. Barths is a "fabulous, sexy, live in the moment place". The fun begins with an exhilerating flight and safe landing at Gustav III airport in St. Jean, thanks to the expert pilots at Winair.
Little did they kn...
St Barths here they come!
The RHONY start their primping for the luxury island trip to St barths! Ramona and Sonja get their "quick fix" of beauty treatments...LuAnn shops for bikinis it's like...well ... "something you want to do alone..." Will Avivas fear of small planes stop her from making the ...
Take a tour of the exclusive villa.
Live like the Real Housewives of New York! St. Barths Online takes you inside the Dunes luxury villa where the girls stayed on their glamorous trip to the Island of St. Barths.
The 16,000 sq ft Villa Dunes offers the ultimate in luxury. Heated pools, tropical ...
RHONY live it up on the Island of St Barts!
Yachts, private villas, pristine beaches, barely-there bikinis and plenty of Pinot Grigio...the Real Housewives of New York (RHONY) hit St. Barts in style. Veteran housewives Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan and Luann De Lesseps (The Countess) join new cast ...
[Apr 10, 2012] Beyonce and Jay-Z spend Easter in St. Barts
Beyonce and Jay-Z have taken their daughter on her first vacation. The couple, who celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary last week, have been enjoying the sunshine on the Caribbean island of St. Barts with three-month-old Blue Ivy over the weekend, and took the tot for a day trip on a yacht.
Kick-off Les Voiles de Saint Barth 2012 Caribbean regatta in the magical French West Indies sailing paradise!
Today the prestigious and top-class Caribbean sailing regatta Les Voiles de St. Barth 2012 with Gaastra Sportswear as the official partner starts: At the third edition run...
[Mar 31, 2012] The Ambiance of St Barths Bucket 2012
Inside the Bucket.
This video features the 2012 St Barths Bucket Regatta and music by the Evan Goodrow Band. Special thanks to the entire crew of the Rebecca, Baz Bar, St Barths Online and the guys from the Evan Goodrow Band for putting on a fantastic show. The song from the Evan Goodrow Band is c...
On board with Rebecca.
The best event in St Barths took place on March 24 - 27, 2012. This video features the beautiful 141 ft sailing yacht, The Rebecca.
produced by Real Media Travel for St. Barths Online and Baz Bar St Barth.
[Mar 14, 2012] Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell in holidays
The age old saying of "I need a holiday to get over my holiday" actually seems applicable if you happen to be Paul McCartney.
The Beatle took wife Nancy Shevell on a romantic break to the Caribbean island of St Barts, just days after the pair visited Paris.
Last week, the lovebirds showed support ...
[Jan 19, 2012] Chris Hemsworth - Elsa Pataky - Matt Damon
On the day their pregnancy news was announced, Thor star Chris Hemsworth, 28, and Elsa Pataky, 35, were seen in sunny St. Barts, France on Wednesday (January 18). The Fast Five actress looked lovely in blue, sporting her beautiful baby bump.
Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky
Chris and Elsa - w...
She might be 44, but Tamara Mellon still boasts a figure that women half her age would be proud of.
The Jimmy Choo co-founder showed off her toned figure in a sexy animal-print bikini as she hit the beach with her daughter in St Barts yesterday.
The skimpy string two-piece highlighted Tamara's env...
With almost every other celebrity couple enjoying the New Year in exotic locations, Gary and Danielle Lineker weren't going to be any different.
The married couple were spotted enjoying a romantic walk along a beach in St Barts today - and looked very much in love.
Gary, 51 and his wife, 32, had o...