The late Delris Cannegieter
PHILIPSBURG--Mental Health Foundation (MHF) in Cay Hill refuses to release the medical records of the deceased Delris Cannegieter to her only child, Caramelda Cannegieter, who is a nurse working in St. Eustatius. On her behalf, attorney Geert Hatzmann filed a preliminary injunction against MHF on Tuesday.
Two years after her mother, who had received medication from Mental Health Foundation (MHF), died at St. Maarten Medical Center after cardiac arrest, Caramelda still has no answer to the question of how this could have happened.
On October 13, 2020, the daughter of 63-year-old Delris Cannegieter was told that her mother had died. She had been in a coma in the St. Maarten Medical Center Intensive Care Unit for four days, after she had received medication from MHF.
October 6, 2020, two days prior to her cardiac arrest, a nurse from the MHF crisis team visited Delris Cannegieter’s home and administered slow-acting antipsychotic medication by injection. On October 8, 2020, two nurses visited Delris and she collapsed in the presence of both nurses and her friend. An ambulance was called. The patient was resuscitated four times and was then rushed to hospital.
Delris Cannegieter suffered cardiac arrest four days prior to her 63rd birthday, which was on October 12, and died the following day. The news of her mother’s cardiac arrest came as a total shock to Caramelda.
The daughter is firmly convinced that her mother’s fatal heart attack was the result of an overdose of medication administered by MHF – twice within a day of a slow-acting medication. To determine whether this hypothesis is correct, Cannegieter requested an autopsy in consultation with the treating cardiologist Dr. Emiko Bird-Lake.
The autopsy could not take place due to the COVID restrictions that were in force in October 2020. As a result, pathologist Dr. Althaus could not travel from Curaçao to St. Maarten within the foreseeable future. The daughter was forced to abandon the autopsy and bury her mother.
Psychiatrist Dr. Kitty Pelswijk and the MHF case manager reluctantly confirmed to Caramelda afterwards that her mother had received a slow-acting medication twice within a period of 24 hours (probably within 12 hours): in the morning hours she was given the monthly “control medication” and in the evening hours she was given “SOS drugs,” the complaint states.
On March 10, 2022, Caramelda sent an email to her lawyer informing him that she wanted justice for her mother. In a subsequent telephone conversation, she indicated to the lawyer that by getting justice for her mother she meant that those through whose actions her mother had suffered unnecessarily and died would have to stand trial before and be punished by the Medical Disciplinary Board.
The Medical Disciplinary Board is already considering a complaint against Dr. Pelswijk. This complaint was received earlier this year from the relatives of the deceased Caulette Julien, who was found dead in MHF’s isolation cell in Cay Hill on August 25, 2020. This complaint was declared admissible by the Medical Disciplinary Board. The accused Dr. Pelswijk must give a written explanation to the Medical Disciplinary Board no later than August 3.
MHF’s lawyer, Dana Kweekel of BZSE attorneys at law, who until recently worked at the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) as an advisor to VSA Minister Omar Ottley, stated in a letter that MHF is bound by a duty of confidentiality on the basis of Article 7:457 of the Dutch Civil Code.
Delris Cannegieter had authorised her daughter to access her medical records. According to Kweekel, this authorisation only relates to the data held by the deceased’s general practitioner, but not to her data held by MHF.
That the obligation of confidentiality continues to exist even after the death of the patient, as MHF argues, is disputed by Caramelda Cannegieter.