photo: Tishelle Daniel

NIEUWEGEIN – Tishelle Daniel, born and raised on Sint Maarten, is a resident in ophthalmology when the corona crisis begins in the Netherlands. She thinks about helping out on the Intensive Care department for three days. On her second day on the job she had to transfer a ‘very young’ deceased patient onto a gurney, en route to the morgue.

“It’s very intense. As an ophthalmologist you treat your patients and they get to go home. On the IC-department where I work, in the Sint Antonius Ziekenhuis in Nieuwegein, people pass away or there in a coma for weeks on end. I haven’t heard a lot of positive stories”, says Daniel.

She sighs. “I find it difficult to have patients who I can’t speak to. We video call a lot with the family members of patients but what am I supposed to tell them. I don’t know anything about their family member.”

Profound impact
Daniel has been working for two and a half weeks on the IC department. As a resident she  is deployed as a ‘buddy’ to one of the IC-nurses. While the work has a profound impact on her, she wouldn’t dream of stopping.  “This is who I am. I have to do this.”

Tishelle has asthma. Still she chose to work with COVID-19 patients.

Daniel has asthma, but she doesn’t believe there’s an extra risk at work. “We have enough protective equipment. I feel safer at work than I do going to the Jumbo (supermarket, ed.).”

Concerns about Sint Maarten
What she worries about a lot is her family on Sint Maarten. The island has the most COVID-19 related deaths of all the islands up till now. Nine deaths, 68 individuals who have tested positive and hundreds showing symptoms. The island is in complete lockdown and even the supermarkets were closed for a bit.

“When I see how full the IC-departments are here, and I know how limited the capacity is on Sint Maarten, I worry a lot. When people exhibit these symptoms they deteriorate quickly. The Sint Maarten Medical Center can’t handle that.”

 “I know how limited the capacity is at the hospital on Sint Maarten, I worry a lot”
– Tishelle Daniel

Daniel is the secretary at the Vereniging Medici van de Antillen (AMA). The association has called upon Caribbean healthcare professionals who wish to help on the islands. They received about 80 applications. Daniel herself would like to go to Sint Maarten. “There’s a need for IC-nurses and IC-physicians. But if they indicate that they can use more people, I’ll go immediately.”

Three times the help
The physician believes that the Dutch government isn’t doing enough for the Winward islands. “First they wanted to send three IC-beds to Sint Maarten. But Sint Maarten is also responsible for the medical care of patients on Saba and Statia. So we need three times the help.”

Despite the workload and the concerns for family and friends overseas, Daniel remains positive. “My family is healthy, I’m healthy, and I have a job. On the days that I’m off, I don’t force myself to be productive. I’m allowed to do nothing and relax.”

Tishelle Daniel

About Tishelle Daniel

Tishelle was born and raised on Sint Maarten and left the island when she was eighteen years old to study medicine at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She got her master’s degree in 2017 and is currently a resident in ophthalmology at all of the St. Antonius Ziekenhuis locations.

Daniel has been the secretary of the Vereniging Medici van de Antillen since the beginning of the year. Her biggest priority within the association is to increase the number of residency spots for young physicians on the islands.



This week Caribbean Network will put Caribbean healthcare heroes who are working during the corona crisis in the limelight.