Prostate MRIs, Available NOW in Aruba

Locals have a long tradition of looking for medical treatment, abroad. For different reasons: They may have had positive past experiences with care-providers abroad, at previous medical events, they may enjoy the convenience of staying with family members, if coincidentally those live abroad, and for privacy reasons, no ‘splanation needed, this is a small island and most of us want to avoid airing our medical news, in public.

Also often, care-providers from abroad are perceived to deliver better service because certain treatments are not available in Aruba.

It is understandable that, although the level of medical care and equipment is high, not everything is at our fingertips. Perhaps the size of Aruba doesn’t justify the investment, and the limited caseload doesn’t afford the local doctors much practice, to assure adequate quality and safety. In some cases, the medical establishment, doesn’t even ‘want to go there.’

For all these good reasons our sickness insurance provider, AZV, sends patients abroad, to Colombia or the Netherlands. Whether it is to an AZV preferred hospital, or the patients’ provider of choice. AZV must cover the cost, by law.

EVERY YEAR, almost 1,000 patients go abroad. But there is progress, increasingly more stay on-island for their screening/treatments, and patients prefer that option over travel to unfamiliar places. AZV over time, has been trying to offer more local solutions, highly appreciated, and preferred.

Keeping patients home reduces expense, but also reduces uncertainty, anxiety, lack of preparedness, and other stressful factors.

As most of you know, prostate cancer is the third most-common cancer in Aruba among men. Prostate cancer will not kill sufferers, but it is not something that can be left untreated.

Complications from the disease and/or treatment, may jeopardize men’s quality of life, if you understand what I mean.

Luckily, effective treatment and evidence-based early interventions are available here, which may help minimize the discomfort and the devastating risk of spread.

The magic word is MRI, Prostate MRI. After having identified the presence of prostate cancer, by undergoing an MRI screening, treatment may begin.

TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY men travel abroad, on average, for prostate MRIs, annually, on AZV’s dime. Our dime.

Since last year, there is now enough MRI capacity on Aruba. Prostate MRIs that HOH, Dr. Horacio Oduber Hospital is UNABLE to perform, are now offered a few doors down the road, at Punto Brabo Diagnostic Center, adjacent to the Urologist Outpatient Consultation Practice. The MRI capacity in Aruba is more than adequate for the present local caseload.

However, does AZV make use of the available capabilities?? The answer is No.

Unfortunately, the available capacity is ignored! HOH has a long waiting list still, and additional patients are sent abroad for MRIs to Colombia, while it is available here.

For no specific reason.

There is no justification for sending men abroad for prostate MRI screening. It can be done here.

Prior efforts to convince AZV to re-evaluate its policy, were futile.

AZV insists on sending patients abroad while there is no valid reason for that, no legal obstacle, no lack of space. AZV stands firm in its flipflops, to be the exclusive MRI screening provider.

Patients with symptoms who have no desire to travel, and who are pressed for time, may enjoy the capabilities of Punto Brabo Diagnostic Center, for a reasonable rate, get their MRI, then walk across the street to see their doctor, with the results in hand.

AND….it is the right of the patient to be reimbursed for the cost of the treatment, when using an alternative care-provider, as anchored by law. Punto Brabo Diagnostic Center is starting to market the possibility for patients to screen here, with the right for compensation by AZV based on articled 25, lid 2, the same article that makes it possible for AZV to pay a hospital in Colombia.

(The available technology is the newest MRI in the Dutch Caribbean, it is run by a multidisciplinary team of specialists, both BIG and ARU-BIG radiologist, a team of 6 professional)

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January 08, 2024
Rona Coster