Top administration health care officials and V.I. senators recently discussed health care strategies for the territory at a conference in Washington, D.C., according to Government House.
The conference, which focused on identifying state health priorities and ensuring healthy families, was sponsored jointly by the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislators. NGA and NCSL aid helped V.I. representatives attend, where they developed a three-goal strategy: achieve measurable improvements in health and wellness through enhanced access and quality of services; provide health coverage and options for the uninsured, underinsured and undocumented residents and increase care options for targeted populations including elderly and persons with disabilities.
"This represented a unique opportunity to drill down and identify issues of similar concern for both the executive and legislative branches as we grapple with budgetary constraints and a shrinking workforce," said Taetia Phillips-Dorsett, deJongh’s health policy advisor.
Health Department Maternal Child Health Director, Dr. Arlene Smith-Lockridge said she welcomed the opportunity for key stakeholders “to sit at the table to discuss the healthcare needs of the MCH population” while Health Commissioner Clarice Plaskett said the conference provided an “opportunity for the representatives from the Virgin Islands to discuss health goals, resources and ways to effectively and efficiently enhance public health services with a focus on healthy families."
Sens. Tregenza Roach and Kenneth Gittens represented the Legislature at the conference.
“This was an exceptional experience to dialogue and network with other states and jurisdictions regarding our health and healthcare priorities," Gittens said.
Roach said he embraced the opportunity to “dialogue with colleagues on both the local and national level.” He said he looks forward to creating local initiatives to improve both health and well-being, particularly of children and families.
Seven states and territories participated including Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and West Virginia.
The V.I. team voted Phillips-Dorsett state team lead, responsible for communicating with the national agency partners and coordinating logistics for meetings over the next few months. Those interested in these issues may share their ideas with Phillips-Dorsett by emailing email@example.com or by calling her at 693-4313.