June 28, 2005 – An executive order of Aug. 7, 2003, by Gov. Charles Turnbull creating a Medical Commission and granting charters to two firms to establish medical schools on St. Thomas and St. Croix was probably meant to speed things up, but it generally just produced court cases and confusion.
(See "Legal Battle Looms over Medical Commission").
Opponents of the Medical Commission lost the initial battles but won recently when Superior Court Judge Edgar D. Ross voided the executive order because it appropriated funds for the administration of the commission, a function reserved to the Legislature.
That ruling might have clarified the situation legally, but a letter from representatives of the Medical Faculty Foundation saying they were no longer interested in establishing a medical school on St. Thomas appears to open the door for the endeavor to go forward on St. Croix. Medical Faculty Foundation had shown interest in opening a medical school in the territory; U.S.V.I. College of Medicine has also shown an interest.
The letter signed by Bruce Randolf Tizes and Peter R. Morris of Medical Faculty Foundation said, "For personal reasons, having nothing whatsoever to do with this exceptional public project, we must respectfully decline that grant. As neighbors and friends, it remains our hope that high quality medical school be established in the territory."
Attorney Kevin Rames, who represents U.S.V.I. College of Medicine, said that organization is "prepared to move forward."
He also said the withdrawal means "that the legislation pending before the Health and Hospitals Committee of the Legislature should move forward without controversy."
The Health, Hospitals and Human Services Committee discussed the legislation last week. The proposed bill is not yet in final draft, but Senate President Lorraine Berry, who is sponsoring the bill, said it could be moved forward quickly.
One paragraph in the letter seems at odds with the published history of the Medical Faculty Foundation. The paragraph says, "From the start, it was the Medical Faculty Foundation's expectation that we would locate and educate in the Frederiksted area. We continue to have great affection for that location for a variety of reasons. The idea of using a community-based school to drive economic development, social change, and employment is not new. As you know well, recent changes in Frederiksted have been quite beneficial; however, it has long been suffering."
Although Tizes mentioned in a newspaper article last year that the group had originally wanted to establish its school on St. Croix, he went on to say that he was assessing the situation in St. Thomas.
All the other news articles say the Medical Faculty was chartered to start a school on St. Thomas, and U.S.V.I. College of Medicine was chartered to start a school on St. Croix.
Berry said that testimony at the Senate hearing last week indicated most people working in the health field did not believe that the territory could support two medical schools.
A requirement to maintain the charter is that $25 million be deposited in local bank. The Medical Faculty made the initial installment of $15 million, but there is no report of the final $10 million being placed in an account.
Phone calls to Tizes on Tuesday were not returned.
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