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Dental Clinic Operations Still Limited as Mold Cleanup Proceeds

Sept. 25, 2007 — The dental clinic at Charles Harwood Medical Complex will remain only partially open for now, but two commercial contracts are in place to clean up the mold that has restricted services, a top health official told senators Tuesday.
The primary root cause of the mold, a broken cooling water pipe, has been repaired, acting Health Commissioner Vivian Ebbesen-Fludd told the Senate Committee on Health, Hospitals and Human Services Tuesday in Frederiksted. But contract and licensing issues for air-conditioner maintenance have delayed the final work.
“We negotiated with Trane of Puerto Rico,” she said. “But late in the process, we discovered Trane Puerto Rico was not licensed to operate in the territory — Ives Trane out of New York is. I believe they may be the parent company, and Trane Puerto Rico may still be doing the work, but in any event we were advised we could only contract with Ives Trane.”
Complaints from employees began last fall. Air tests later confirmed high levels of black-mold spores in the air, particularly around the complex’s maternity and dental clinics. The activities of the maternity unit have been temporarily moved, and that clinic is fully operational, albeit in crowded quarters. The dental clinic ceased performing tooth extractions, fillings and other procedures during which airborne spores could theoretically cause infection. (See "Crowding, Mold Problems Continue to Disrupt Care at Health Clinic.")
Another company, Environmental Concepts, has been contracted to clean up any remaining mold, Ebbesen-Fludd said. But its work is on hold until the air-conditioning maintenance contract is in place.
If the Health Department pays to clean up the mold without a maintenance contract in place to keep the air-conditioning system running to specifications and clean of mold itself, it would end up having to pay to clean up the mold again in short order, she said.
Trane was to contact Health by the end of the day Tuesday and has agreed to have some work in place by Dec. 1, Ebbesen-Fludd said. But she did not have a firm timeline for when the dental clinic might resume full operations. Currently, she said, it primarily serves as an emergency provider of some care. Because of Medicare and Medicaid rules, she said, the clinic had to refer patients to private practitioners, and so still had a necessary role to play even with restricted services.
Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste asked Ebbesen-Fludd if she had explored the possibility of a satellite dental facility in Frederiksted’s Ingeborg Nesbitt public-health clinic.
“I have had some conversation with (Clinic Director) Anneta (Adams-) Heyliger about implementing dental services,” but nothing concrete is currently on the table, she said.
In other business Tuesday, the committee took testimony on a bill intended to address abuse of elder and dependent adults in the territory. Masserae Sprauve-Webster, the chief operating officer of Lutheran Social Services, testified that she objected to the bill as written because it does not provide a way to take care of dependent adults once the act removes a family member acting as caretaker from that role.
“In our facilities we have had to intervene to bring relief to clients who were being verbally or physically abused,” she said. “This, unfortunately, has often resulted in the caretaker abandoning the client with words such as, 'If you’re going to tell me how to take care of my mother, then you take care of her!'”
According to the testimony of Assistant Police Commissioner Novelle Francis, the bill asked the V.I. Police Department to provide information from the National Crime Information Center database, as well as its own database, but did not fund the costs of these services. In addition, he bill incorrectly gives the Department of Justice certain responsibilities that only the police department could carry out, Francis said. He offered several suggested revisions to the bill. The bill on elder abuse was held in committee for modification and so senators can hear additional testimony at a later date.
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Sept. 25, 2007 -- The dental clinic at Charles Harwood Medical Complex will remain only partially open for now, but two commercial contracts are in place to clean up the mold that has restricted services, a top health official told senators Tuesday.
The primary root cause of the mold, a broken cooling water pipe, has been repaired, acting Health Commissioner Vivian Ebbesen-Fludd told the Senate Committee on Health, Hospitals and Human Services Tuesday in Frederiksted. But contract and licensing issues for air-conditioner maintenance have delayed the final work.
“We negotiated with Trane of Puerto Rico,” she said. “But late in the process, we discovered Trane Puerto Rico was not licensed to operate in the territory -- Ives Trane out of New York is. I believe they may be the parent company, and Trane Puerto Rico may still be doing the work, but in any event we were advised we could only contract with Ives Trane.”
Complaints from employees began last fall. Air tests later confirmed high levels of black-mold spores in the air, particularly around the complex’s maternity and dental clinics. The activities of the maternity unit have been temporarily moved, and that clinic is fully operational, albeit in crowded quarters. The dental clinic ceased performing tooth extractions, fillings and other procedures during which airborne spores could theoretically cause infection. (See "Crowding, Mold Problems Continue to Disrupt Care at Health Clinic.")
Another company, Environmental Concepts, has been contracted to clean up any remaining mold, Ebbesen-Fludd said. But its work is on hold until the air-conditioning maintenance contract is in place.
If the Health Department pays to clean up the mold without a maintenance contract in place to keep the air-conditioning system running to specifications and clean of mold itself, it would end up having to pay to clean up the mold again in short order, she said.
Trane was to contact Health by the end of the day Tuesday and has agreed to have some work in place by Dec. 1, Ebbesen-Fludd said. But she did not have a firm timeline for when the dental clinic might resume full operations. Currently, she said, it primarily serves as an emergency provider of some care. Because of Medicare and Medicaid rules, she said, the clinic had to refer patients to private practitioners, and so still had a necessary role to play even with restricted services.
Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste asked Ebbesen-Fludd if she had explored the possibility of a satellite dental facility in Frederiksted’s Ingeborg Nesbitt public-health clinic.
“I have had some conversation with (Clinic Director) Anneta (Adams-) Heyliger about implementing dental services,” but nothing concrete is currently on the table, she said.
In other business Tuesday, the committee took testimony on a bill intended to address abuse of elder and dependent adults in the territory. Masserae Sprauve-Webster, the chief operating officer of Lutheran Social Services, testified that she objected to the bill as written because it does not provide a way to take care of dependent adults once the act removes a family member acting as caretaker from that role.
“In our facilities we have had to intervene to bring relief to clients who were being verbally or physically abused,” she said. “This, unfortunately, has often resulted in the caretaker abandoning the client with words such as, 'If you’re going to tell me how to take care of my mother, then you take care of her!'”
According to the testimony of Assistant Police Commissioner Novelle Francis, the bill asked the V.I. Police Department to provide information from the National Crime Information Center database, as well as its own database, but did not fund the costs of these services. In addition, he bill incorrectly gives the Department of Justice certain responsibilities that only the police department could carry out, Francis said. He offered several suggested revisions to the bill. The bill on elder abuse was held in committee for modification and so senators can hear additional testimony at a later date.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.