Published: Feb 4, 2021

ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Disaster Recovery and Infrastructure chaired by Sen. Janelle K. Sarauw, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Thursday, and received testimony on the status of the healthcare facilities post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Furthermore, senators were updated on the procurement process and expenditures of the COVID-19 funds as it pertains to healthcare.

“There is a need for cohesiveness. The organizational structure lacks continuity and stable leadership at the hospitals. The committee will continue to dive in so that this body can assist as needed,” Sen. Sarauw.

Presently, the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital is temporarily utilizing JFL North, a hardened structure, until the permanent JFL North is completely rebuilt. The deadline to complete the JFL North building is February 2021 and the entire completion is slated for June 2021, according to JFL Interim Chief Executive Officer Dyma Williams, RN, BSN, CPHRM, MJ. However, The Virgin Islands Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne Williams-Octalien stated that the deadline may not be realistic due to the timeline to construct a structure that secures the medical gas system and a large-scale commercial water heater required for JFL to be compliant with Federal guidelines. Furthermore, Octalien mentioned that FEMA completed the first cost estimate of $250 million for the replacement of JFL in January 2021. This is a significant increase in comparison to the FEMA estimate of $12.5 million in April 2018. The increase is due to the oversight of several key projects such as utility connections and medical gases that were not included in the original estimation.

Williams noted that although JFL North is furnished with state-of-the-art equipment and resources estimated at $29.8 million, essential sewer lines and water pipes are still being installed. The installation of the lines was omitted from the original RFP and Aptim’s scope of work in 2018. Also excluded were external projects such as the ambulance ramp, Concrete Masonry Unit, and the Propane Tank. Despite shortcomings, JFL North has achieved four operating rooms, a laboratory, a radiology department, and a pharmacy. In terms of building a new and permanent JFL hospital, FEMA has not finalized a cost estimation. Regarding the COVID-19 funds, the Office of Management and Budget Director Jenifer O’Neal noted that the Treasury CARES ACT Relief Fund issued JFL a total of $6,163,897.06 in February 2021. There is $60,875 for the purchase of non-contact COVID-19 temperature assessment devices, $6,000,000 for payroll reimbursement, and $103,022.66 for the local reimbursement on project worksheets submitted to FEMA.


Similarly, Schneider Regional Medical Center (SRMC) Interim Chief Executive Director Dr. Luis Amaro shared the post-hurricanes update. To date, a total of $6,105,424.64 was expended in operational funds for both temporary and emergency repairs to restore medical services at SRMC. To maintain compliance with healthcare regulatory guidelines, essential repairs were made to the patient care and personnel areas. Amaro further noted that additional repairs were inclusive of the maternal-child health unit, operating room, roofing damages, window system, the labor, and delivery unit, air condition system. FEMA is still in the process of determining the final cost estimate to complete the necessary repairs to SRMC. Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, O’Neal noted that the Treasury CARES ACT Relief Fund awarded SRMC $3,266,711.58 solely for payroll reimbursement. Amaro noted that an estimated $5,439,622.96 was expended to purchase equipment and to make accommodations to prepare for the pandemic. Some of the adjustments are inclusive of engineered mechanical ventilation systems for a negative pressure environment, establishing a Highly Infectious Disease Patient Care Unit for COVID patients, and implementing screening protocols and restricted visitations to SRMC.                                                                                                                                       ###

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