Territorial Hospital Board Approves Contracts, Improvements for Both Districts

Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital pictured before the 2017 hurricanes. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)
Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital pictured before the 2017 hurricanes. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

The board of the V.I. Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation met virtually Wednesday evening and approved several expenditures for the territory’s two hospitals as well as applications for medical staff.

Jenifer O’Neal, chair of the Finance Committee and director of the V.I. Office of Management and Budget, presented the cases. Both health care facilities – the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital and Schneider Regional Medical Center – use the same software to capture the billable costs of services or items. The board unanimously approved three-year contracts with Craneware Inc. for financial software. The charges cannot exceed $270,559 for Juan Luis Hospital or $228,048 for Schneider Hospital.

Luis Hospital also requested funding for engineering services for its temporary structures and the V.I. Cardiac Center. Because the existing facility will be undergoing major construction, new utilities are needed, such as medical gasses, water storage and supply, sewer, power, water pump, air compressor, vacuum pump and others. The board approved a contract with CMA International Architects & Engineers, PSC for the architectural and engineering services for $397,800.

The St. Croix hospital was approved by the board to hire Clifton Larson Allen, LLP as the auditor for fiscal years 2020, 2021 and 2022. The amount of $352,050 was approved to cover travel and expenses.

At the request of Dr. Anne Treasure and the Performance Improvement Committee, the board approved credentials for three new medical staff members at Juan Luis and renewed privileges for 11 others for one or two years. At the same time, two physicians were approved for reappointment at Schneider.

During the meeting, Dyma Williams, Juan Luis’ interim chief executive officer, and Dr. Luis Amaro, Schneider Regional’s interim chief executive officer, updated the board on the progress to rebuild the facilities and financial matters.

Amaro said there are no hospitalized COVID patients at this time, but they have added beds in case of a surge, and the hospital has sufficient personal protection equipment. In addition to more emergency room physicians, he said there are accounting positions open.

Williams and her staff reported they are waiting for radiology equipment for the new temporary facility and soon will install a sewer line and pave the parking lot. She is looking at purchasing an almost four-acre parcel of land adjacent to the existing property for the new hospital and parking.

Board Chairman Christopher Finch said the additional land would allow construction to begin on the new hospital without having to demolish the old facility.

“It really would make life easier,” he said.

The administrators told the board that revenue is down due to COVID-19 despite receiving several million dollars from the CARES Act. Surgeries and occupancy are down, expenses for PPE and other COVID-related supplies are up.

Luis Hospital’s revenue for the year is $59 million versus the $71.1 million projected. Shenel Moorehead, the hospital’s acting chief financial officer, said the hospital continues to pay past-due bills, including taxes and utilities. They are also paying current and past amounts due to the Government Employees’ Retirement System. Similarly, Amaro said the St. Thomas hospital’s income is $3 million less than projected. Both hospitals rely on federal government payments – Medicare and Medicaid – to cover most of the patient care.

The CEOs of both facilities talked about the new services they are providing. The St. Croix hospital has begun performing knee and hip surgeries, and Schneider Regional is adding speech pathology services. Eventually, the St. Thomas hospital will offer telemetry services again.

Amaro said additional emergency room physicians are important for the hospital and they hope to have as many as five in another year.

“It is important to take ownership. It is important for nurses and physicians to take ownership and accountability – not the locums [temporary medical professionals],” he said.

An executive session was called to discuss personnel matters and allow hospital management to update the board on cybersecurity precautions.

Board members who attended the WEBEX meeting were Finch, O’Neal, Treasure, Justa Encarnacion, Faye John-Baptiste, Jerry Smith, Dr. Frank Odlum and Clarina Modeste-Elliott.