Daryl Smalls, territorial director of hospital facilities and capital development, told the Territorial Hospital Board on Wednesday a board-directed team will begin to hire staff to power the health facilities’ rebuilding now that the first architectural contract has been approved.
The first steps for the redevelopment team, Smalls told the territorial board, were to set up meetings with the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital executive staff and next week with Flad Architects who have been contracted to design the new St. Croix hospital.
One of the first steps for the hospitals themselves is to set up an account code to track all financial transactions, including payroll. Smalls told the board he is working with the Office of Disaster Recovery to establish processes for vendor payments and reimbursements.
In order not to slow the pace of the rebuilding, Smalls said office space on St. Croix must be found right away and staff must be hired to work with contractors and hospital leadership. He proposed hiring up to 13 people. Positions to fill include an executive assistant, a lead project manager, project engineer and financial staff. Job descriptions are being developed, and all jobs will have an end date.
Smalls said he will decide on the final staff with the approval of the board chair, and, hopefully, employees will live on the island where they need to work. Smalls reports to the territorial hospital board.
As the projects move forward, the redevelopment team will work closely with the interim chief executive officers of both hospitals, the territorial finance manager and the hospitals’ respective chief financial officers.
Contracts for Schneider Regional Medical Center, Charlotte Kimmelman Cancer Institute and Myrah Keating Smith Clinic are nearing approval, and meetings will be arranged for those projects as well.
Funding of $18 million has been designated by FEMA for all of the projects, with 5 percent allocated for project management, according to Smalls. Costs are allocated to individual facilities and payments will be approved by CEOs and CFOs before they are forwarded to the Office of Disaster Recovery, VITEMA and the Finance Department.
“It is a slow cadence. I project all payments will be made within a 30-40-day timeline,” Smalls said. Finance Commissioner Clarina Modeste-Elliott added there is a 24-hour turnaround at the Finance Department.
Dr. Anne Treasure asked if the expense of new staff is justified. Board chairman Christoper Finch pointed out there will be five construction projects requiring payments and oversight, and current management can’t handle the projects as well as run their facilities.
At the monthly board meeting, Luis hospital’s interim Chief Executive Officer Dyma Williams updated the board on the progress of construction projects at St. Croix’s temporary hospital – called JFL North. Of the communications center, sewer, water and fire lines, a concrete pad, the mechanical building and an ambulance ramp, only the water lines and ramp are completed. The communications center should be ready in April and the concrete pad to support the propane tank in August. The design of the highly technical mechanical building is expected by March 18, according to Williams.
The board also approved a contract for Juan Luis with The Office Cart, LLC for $324,378.56 to purchase IT equipment and accessories for the temporary hospital. They also approved seven initial medical staff appointments and 11 reappointments.
Board members who attended the virtual meeting were Finch, Modest-Elliott, Treasure, Jenifer O’Neal, Justa Encarnacion, Dr. Frank Odlum, Faye John-Baptiste, Jerry Smith and Marise James.