Before they got down to business, members of the Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation – the territorial hospital board, attempted to change the agenda and vote for a new chairperson Thursday.
Dr. Olivine Anne Treasure was nominated, and then the current acting chairman Kirk Callwood was also nominated. After discussing how to proceed, the members agreed the vote should be held at a meeting 30 days after the nominations.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but lets get down to business. If we have a problem with the chair, we’ll deal with it at a later time,” Jenifer O’Neal, board treasurer and director of the V.I. Office of Management and Budget said.
O’Neal threatened to leave the meeting and “break the quorum” unless the board focused on the agenda which included approving salary increases for the staff at both hospitals.
The board called an executive session to discuss the union-negotiated raises. The total cost for Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019 was $2.1 million additional in payroll for the Gov. Juan Luis Hospital – funding that was approved and allocated by the Legislature. The amount includes contributions to the Government Employees Retirement System, according to the meeting’s agenda.
The approved increase for the Schneider Regional Medical Center staff was $1.6 million – approved in collective bargaining negotiations.
Other requests by O’Neal that the board approved unanimously included:
Resealing the damaged roof of the administrative wing at Schneider Regional. Dependable Roofers was approved to complete the work for $203,800. The repair will be funded by operational funds and reimbursed by FEMA.
A new fluoroscopy unit was approved for Schneider Regional for $400,000 from GE Healthcare. The current equipment is more than 20 years old, according to the agenda. Legislative allocations via Act no. 8187 will fund the equipment
The St. Thomas hospital also will receive a new C-Arm Machine for the operating room for $135,000, also from GE Healthcare. Act. #8187 will also fund the C-Arm.
Schneider Regional Hospital will also purchase a new CT scanner to replace a 13-year old unit, described as “end of life.” Act. #8187 will fund the $633,484 purchase.
The Schneider laboratory department will lease-to-purchase new CBC analysis equipment for $498,000 funded by the hospital’s operational account.
After the board meeting, Treasure talked to the Source about recent reports that dialysis and surgery units were being returned to the States after being set up on the grounds of the Luis Hospital. The portable structures were to be used until a permanent structure is built.
Treasure said that reports of sending the dialysis units off-island are incorrect and the two units are in use and will continue to treat patients.
The two OR units, however, are not being used as the hospital has had to retrofit them for surgery and after making improvements, the owners have requested their return.
When the units arrived on St. Croix in February 2018, staff learned that they had never been used to perform surgery. Flooring, air purification, air conditioning, electricity and phone systems had to be installed. The units were not sterile and there was no way to provide oxygen to patients under sedation. Building a corridor between the two rooms was necessary since surgical patients are not allowed to be in the open air.
After all those changes had been made – about $200,000 worth, according to Treasure and administrative staff – in order to gain approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the units were recalled for the hurricane season to the New Jersey and North Carolina hospitals where they originated from.
The arrangements to ship the units to St. Croix were made through VITEMA, so they were not inspected prior to arriving on the island.
“We are really appreciative, but wish we had known in advance they had never been used for surgery,” Treasure said.