Almost two and a half years after hurricanes Irma and Maria, the V.I. Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation Board approved the territory’s hospital rebuilding plan. The action is an important step in rebuilding the territory’s health care system.
Monday’s meeting at the V.I. Cardiac Center was attended by all members and the board voted unanimously to approve the territory’s hospital rebuilding program. The vote allows the administrations of Schneider and Luis hospitals to seek architectural and engineering services through the V.I. Department of Property and Procurement. The requests for proposals will seek initial services – engineering and architectural – to begin reconstruction or repair of the territory’s health care facilities.
Before the vote Monday the chief executive officers of the two hospitals, Dr. Bernard Wheatley and acting CEO Dyma Williams, along with Daryl Smalls, the vice president of Schneider’s facility’s management, presented the proposal to the board. Smalls explained the project to the rest of the board.
The FEMA money for the hospitals will be handled the same way as other public buildings that need to be rebuilt – under the 428 program. Funds likely will be dispersed in tranches and amount to more than first approved, Smalls said. Like the V.I. Water and Power Authority health care facilities will be put on a priority list, he said.
Proposals and paperwork will filter through Property and Procurement, but the hospital board will make decisions, such as who is awarded bids. Then the projects will be managed by the hospitals’ administrators. Answering a question from Dr. Olivine Treasure, Smalls said there will be no mingling of funds, although the hospitals will try to run some of the projects simultaneously.
“Everything is put on the table because we’re talking about huge sums of money,” Smalls said, adding that the V.I. Justice Department will oversee documents and procedures.
In other action, the board approved:
– Allowing the board chair to hire a firm to begin a search for permanent CEOs at both JFL and SRMC. Wheatley is retiring and an interim executive has been appointed. Earlier this month, the territorial board named Dr. Luis Amaro interim chief executive officer. Dr. Wheatley was thanked and wished well at the end of the meeting.
– A pay increase of $71,000 for the Schneider leadership team.
– Hiring Navigation Construction LLC, for supplies, equipment and labor to repair the JFL operating room and intensive care unit.
– Deciding to vote on new board officers at the next meeting on Feb. 26.
Most board members attended the meeting by phone. Board secretary and medical personnel representative Dr. Treasure attended in person on St. Croix. Chairman Kirk Callwood, treasurer and OMB Director Jenifer O’Neal and secretary and Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion were joined on the phone by Christopher Finch, Cornel Williams, Greta Hart-Hyndmann, Faye John-Baptiste and Dr. Sydney Comissiong.