Gov. Bryan Bypasses Procurement Rules for JFL Hospital Work

Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital in March 2018. (Source photo by Bill Kossler)

Gov. Albert Bryan has issued an executive order declaring a state of public exigency for Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital, according to the hospital. The hospital was badly damaged in the 2017 hurricanes and was hobbled by very serious plumbing and sewage issues before the storms. A state of exigency allows the government to bypass normal procurement rules for capital projects.

After the 2017 storms, water and wind damage led to the complete closure of the hospital’s third floor, which housed JFL’s medical and surgical units. There was a reduction in operating room services from three to one rooms, and a reduction in bed capacity from 80 down to the current 46 beds, according to the hospital. There was also a loss of outpatient dialysis and interventional cardiology services.

During Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s administration, the territory procured a modular hospital with federal funding. But the modular hospital has not been fully furnished and supplied.

Furniture, fixtures and equipment were “removed from FEMA’s initial project worksheets” before the current hospital administration took office, according to a statement from JFL.

The current hospital administration and acting Chief Executive Officer Dyma B. Williams, has worked with the Office of Disaster Recovery to outfit the modular hospital with the necessary
furnishings and medical equipment to ensure the temporary modular hospital can begin
operations by the scheduled May 2020 opening date.

For the longer term, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved funding to build a new, permanent hospital.

The public exigency declaration was issued to help JFL expedite the procurement process and complete emergency repairs in the Intensive Care Unit in order to reopen the ICU as soon as possible, hospital officials say.

Both JFL and the Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas are also struggling with financial and staffing issues, partly due to loss of revenue after the storms and partly the continuation of longstanding trends.

Bryan toured JFL recently and reportedly said the territory’s two hospitals are a top priority.

“We are continuing our work with the current leadership of both our hospitals to ensure that we have facilities that are able to appropriately provide for the health needs of the residents while we work on a long term solution to improve healthcare in the territory,” Bryan said.

Williams said the hospital is eager to begin construction of the new hospital.

“In the meantime, we strive to maintain safe patient care in the current JFL facility,” she said.