Bonaire-based Medicair has been operating ambulance aircraft and providing the crew for 20 years, while Fundashon Mariadal supplies the nurses. Photo: Medicair
KRALENDIJK – According to the general director of Fundashon Mariadal Hospital in Bonaire, Giovanni Frans, the Ministry of Health is prepared to dig deep to bring a PH-registered ambulance plane to the island.
Frans made these remarks last week in response to questions from the press about a possible change in the company currently operating the aircraft and crew, Medicair N.V., based in Bonaire. Without mentioning Medicair by name, Frans indicated that Mariadal’s medivac service has been so good in recent years that other hospitals often make use of the service.
However, according to Frans, the Dutch Ministry’s desire would that future medical evacuations by air be carried out by aircraft registered in the Netherlands. The Ministry of Health has reportedly expressed its willingness to cover all additional costs associated with this move, as it considers it highly important.
Medicair Director René Winkel expressed surprise about Frans’ statements during an interview with ABC Online Media. “Fundashon Mariadal is an existing customer of ours, so I don’t want to say too much about it. Fact is that we have been doing this work for the hospital for 20 years, and as far as I can see, to their full satisfaction.”
Under the current arrangement, Medicair provides the aircraft and flight crew, while Fundashon Mariadal supplies the nurses who accompany patients on board. According to Winkel Mariadal’s intentions are no longer a surprise. “Last year, we were approached for a Request for Information (RFI), indicating that the future operator of the aircraft must be registered in the Netherlands. As the current supplier, we see no value or practical feasibility in this requirement. Therefore, we did not respond to Mariadal’s request. We now understand that Mariadal is looking for another provider for both the aircraft and crew.”
According to Winkel, it is absolutely untrue that a PH-registered aircraft would be better or safer than one carrying the PJ registration from the Curaçao Civil Aviation Authority. “In fact, when the Antillean islands separated, a protocol was established between the islands and the Netherlands, recognizing each other’s aviation companies and licenses. So what Frans is saying is essentially baseless. There is no reason to believe that oversight from the Netherlands, 8000 kilometers away, would be better or more effective than the oversight exercised by CCAA (Curaçao Civil Aviation Authority).”
Winkel finds the situation particularly disheartening for his own team. “These are highly motivated individuals who for years and years have been on stand-by day and night, in good or bad weather, 365 days per year to fly patients from Bonaire to foreign hospitals for emergency care. In all this time, we have never missed a single flight, but apparently, there are certain forces within the hospital who have different ideas.”