Public-Private Sector Committee receives endorsement from Minister of Public Health Lee and SHTA Executive Board

A five-member Public-Private Sector Committee has received the endorsement of Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) Emil Lee and the St. Maarten Hospitality & Tourism Association (SHTA) Executive Board with respect to the establishment of standards and guidelines to ensure a health hospitality industry.


On Tuesday 25 October, the committee was introduced to the new Director of the SHTA, Wyb Meijer, who also confirmed full support from the SHTA for this initiative.


In July a workshop was held at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Spa to develop an outbreak control manual comprising of communicable disease prevention guidelines for the hospitality industry throughout the country.


The organizing parties were Ministry VSA, Ministry of Tourism and Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT), the SHTA, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and the Sonesta Great Bay and Maho Group.


The Outbreak Control Management manual to be developed will be used to train and educate hospitality sector staff in the use of the manual; and to ensure that standard operating procedures are in place to monitor the use of the manual.


The members of the committee are: private sector representative Arnaldo Phelipa, currently Assistant Operation Manager at Princess Heights Boutique Condo Hotel.  Phelipa studied International Hospitality Management at Florida International University School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and has worked in the hospitality sector for the past 16 years.


Private sector representative Karen Hana, currently General Manager at Alegria.  Hana is a graduate of the Hotel School in The Hague, the Netherlands and has been working in the hospitality sector for more than 20 years.


Private sector representative Karl Bourne, currently Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort& Spa General Manager.  Bourne is considered a veteran hotelier, a graduate of Penn State, and has a Master’s Degree in Hospitality Leadership, with Global University for Lifelong Learning.


The two public sector representatives on the committee are: Dr. Virginia Asin Oostburg, Head of the Collective Preventive Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, and Maria Henry, Section Head of General Health Care within CPS.


The process to develop the manual has also received administrative procedures assistance from two interns from the Dutch Hanze Hogeschool, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, namely Milou Leijnaar and Renske Hofstede.  Both students are doing their internships at Alegria and Princess Heights.


Dr. Virginia Asin Oostburg, said that CPS is looking forward to working with all stakeholders to further strengthen our community response mechanisms for infectious diseases and viruses.


One of the first objectives of the committee is that all hotels have an infectious diseases sanitation control plan in place and operational to prevent Norovirus borne gastroenteritis.


Norovirus gastroenteritis, is a common disease worldwide affecting all age groups and often causing outbreaks. The Norovirus symptoms are: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, myalgia, headache, malaise, fever, or a combination of several of these symptoms.  The latter lasts usually 24 to 48 hours.