Really? In 2016, in Aruba?

One of my bright friends, an Aruban who lives overseas posed the above question: Really, in 2016? In Aruba? When he saw the sad pictures of the late Valerie Horeb and her baby, in one of the online newspapers, under the funeral home logo.

A woman dying at child birth, in Aruba in 2016, is truly a tragic and inconsolable incident.

In the public arena, the verdict is already out: This was simply a case of neglect on the part of the hospital staff, the gynecologist and pediatrician who were in charge of this case.

We heard she was a housekeeper, a humble single mother, probably from Haiti, perhaps illegal. She had no family members on the island, only her church friends for support.  Vulnerable to begin with, she collided with a terrible system failure at the hospital. She was carrying twins in a high risk pregnancy and our medical establishment dragged its feet about this or that instead of just getting the babies out, in time to save the mother. The girl twin survived, the boy died, mom was found lifeless in her hospital bed.

A video of Valerie in comma is circulating, she looks delirious, no longer conscious, it is difficult to watch, but if you insist it can be viewed on various FB pages.

The story opened a dialogue among my friends, and I am sure you too were debating the issue:

The Idealist: But wasn’t that the whole idea of AZV, delivering a single, one size fits all, health care coverage that would include all residents of Aruba, rich and poor?? Didn’t Hippocrates, the Father of Western Medicine, set the rules? Help now, ask questions later. We should never withhold healthcare from a person because of bureaucratic hurdles. We should provide health care when needed and ask questions about eligibility and payment later, even if we risk the abuse of the generous system, which by the way, is inevitable.

The Historian: I thought that if you were not insured by AZV or any other type of insurance, which is the case with people who are here illegally, then you had to pay the hospital before they would treat you. I remember we had a housekeeper who came to us already pregnant, also from Haiti. She was waiting for her work and residence papers to go through. She too carried twins, and the Haitian community collected funds when the babies had to be delivered, prematurely. But she had to pay before going into the hospital.

The Cynic: En berdad ta lamentabel cu no tin un Inspecteur Volksgezondheid ainda. E caso ta wordo investiga, pero ya caba tur hende tin un opinion y hasta nan a bin cu un diagnose. Claro tambe cu dokternan aki no ta sirbi, AZV no ta sirbi, hospital no ta sirbi, nos leynan no ta sirbi y asina por sigui,  pero tur hende kier bin biba aki si….!!  Si e Sra tabata ilegal, anto e gastonan con cu bay bin ta bin riba cuenta di e pagado di belasting. Hospital tin un suma cuantioso na placa pa haya di trato medico na ilegalnan. Pa por keda duna bon servicio, hospital no por haci otro cu subi su tarifanan y AZV na cierto momento lo mester hisa su prima of bin cu un eigen bijdrage. Dus…un circulo vicioso.

The Politically Correct: Would the public be more outraged if she were local?  I am not sure. But the case is getting the attention and is being investigated. But it does raise interesting questions. When someone comes to live on Aruba as a domestic helper, should we as a society be expected to cover all health costs including having babies, all for the Awg 1,000 payment per year, which goes to AZV, when he/she gets into service. Are these babies “Aruban” when they are born to foreign nationals living here? The answer is no, I know, and neither can they get a Dutch passport.  Now the above might be a politically incorrect question to ask. Am I being politically incorrect?

The Feisty Realist: Yes, we should be expected to cover all health cost BUT NOT for every foreign national and their mother! And NOT for a mere Awg 1,000 payment per year. We cannot afford it. That is my point. And you CANNOT compare us to England or Canada or the Netherlands or Qatar, a mistake many on this island make; we do not have that kind of money. We have had cases where people came to live here, they got their permit somehow, then all of a sudden We find out and THEY already know, that their kid will require a million or two in health care costs. Like in Valerie’s case, people in our community are asking questions, should it be expected of us, the tax payers to cover all medical costs for this person who came here as a domestic helper, having paid the minimum low premium, and having required expensive health care.…… It is a legitimate question, don’t beat me up over it, and people are asking…… Maybe one way to deal with this challenge in Aruba is to require the sponsors of domestic help to take out supplemental health insurance for foreign nationals in their service.

People are talking.

Meanwhile, our heartfelt condolences to Valerie’s church friends, and her family members.