A visit with Dr. Richard Visser and Aysel Erbudak

Following reports in the Dutch media about a court case involving Aysel Erbudak and the Slotervaartziekenhuis, when she was chairman of the board of the now bankrupt hospital, the local media joined the circus and spilled buckets of ink about the story, here, in Curacao, and in the Netherlands. It’s a juicy story and it has been going on for five or six years.

The case will be appealed because every disagreement has two sides, seeking their own justice. But then I heard Richard & Aysel were back in Aruba, and I asked to be invited for coffee.

While tall trees usually get hit by strong winds, I have enjoyed a personal friendship with Richard and his family for a very long time, and there is no reason to stop being fond of him now, that the press has a field day. On the contrary, as the old paraphrased typing drill instructs:” Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their friends.”

We had espresso and talked. He told me about his latest innovation project, The VERA health revolution, “that offers healthcare that treats people, not symptoms — a model that creates opportunity instead of costs, and emphasizes value over profit.”

We will be able to visit top doctors across the globe via our tablets and enjoy advanced primary care that would minimize obstacles to health.

It all sounded futuristic, and very common-sense. 

Then I remembered that Richard has always been involved with important issues on the island. First there was treatment for addiction, and the Fellowship Foundation halfway house.

Then, as the former Minister of Sport he gets full credit for getting us to exercise the way we now do. Under his leadership this island started to move. Before he left office, he had the hospital deal set up, and even the San Nicolas radiation facility, both were part of his improved health care vision for the island.

Childhood Obesity? Remember that?

Richard was the first to sound the alarm AND outline a fix, by raising the level of activity and continuing to organize the Extreme H Games. As a minister, he actually wrote and presented a National Plan Aruba 2009-2018. He wanted to make teaching children about health Hip & Cool.

Ten years ago, he already considered the excess weight issue on the island the number one public health threat, and continuously raised awareness to the growing problem, we are now facing.

Remember Cyclovia? When he closed traffic on weekends to allow children and adults on bicycles, skateboards, and on foot room to exercise and move, along Eagle Beach.

As a result of his high profile and the great publicity he generated for his cause, our former MinPres had to dump him, for an alternative minister of health, who proceeded to remain fast asleep at the wheel for four years.

You know what happened to the unsupervised hospital project, right?

And just now, the clinic in San Nicholas will be opening, 8 years late, thanks to another bulldozer of a man, in charge of that project.

Then Richard tackled education and the Steve Job schools, SJS, a dream that eventually fizzled.

In 2017, the former MinPres lured him back again into politics, expressing regret, shame and remorse, over the original dumping, and asked for another chance.

Halfheartedly, Richard signed up again as #9 on the list, he wanted perhaps to add to the total party package in innovation or education. But that plan never took off, and the party gratefully, lost the elections in 2017.

We don’t have that many free-spirited entrepreneurs/business people on the island, visionaries who go from one idea to the next, exploring, taking risks and willing to try different perspectives. We should support these people, instead of joining the vultures..

With a good legal team at work, the Vissers enjoy walks, sports, raising five kids, and living in two places at the same time. He stands by his woman 100%. And that mutual personal responsibility is admirable, at an age where no one wants to take personal responsibility for anything.

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December 05, 2019
Rona Coster