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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Panel Approves Different Bill on Determining Death

Aug. 30, 2004 – The Senate Health, Hospitals and Human Services Committee gave its nod on Monday to a bill "amended in its entirety" establishing a standard for the determination of death.
It also heard a litany of laments about the state of transportation services in the territory
for the elderly and the handicapped.
The committee amended the death determination bill in its entirety, according to a release from the Legislature. The substitute version provides that:
– Death shall be determined to have occurred as of the time of the completion of the determination of thereof.
– Each hospital and community health center shall establish and implement a written policy regarding the determination of death.
– Such policy shall include a description of the test to be employed in making the determination and a procedure for making reasonable efforts to notify the individual's next of kin that such determination will soon be completed.
(For testimony on the bill before the committee in May by health-care professionals and parents who encountered "legal and bureaucratic hurdles" in seeking to donate their son's organs following his death, see "Witnesses Urge Changes to Law on Determining Death".)
Sen. Usie Richards was the only committee member voting against the amended bill. He expressed concern about whether the measure would supersede existing law and governance in the hospitals and health centers, according to the release.
Voting in favor were Sens. Douglas Canton Jr., Emmett Hansen II, Norman Jn Baptiste and Luther Renee. The bill now goes to the Rules Committee.
Transportation Services
Rosemary Sumas, director of the Dial-A-Ride program on St. Thomas, stated in written testimony that the service may have to shut down if further funding is not found, according to the release.
She said that Dial-A-Ride has been in existence on St. Thomas for 19 years and provides critical services "non-duplicated by any other agency."
The fiscal year 2003 appropriation of $60,000 for the program was recommended by the Office of Management and Budget and approved by the 25th Legislature without awareness of its inadequacy, Sumas said. Then the same amount was appropriated for FY 2004 and is as now been proposed for FY 2005.
Constance Gumbs, senior planner in the Public Works Department's Office of Transportation, testified that Dial-A-Ride ceased to exist on St. Croix because a service provider failed to comply with federal regulations requiring monthly reports on such things as the number of passengers and salaries.
After two years of such problems, Gumbs said, Vitran decided to assume responsibility for transporting the elderly and disabled on St. Croix.
However, the release stated, Sheila Smith, who had been the manager of the defunct Dial-A-Ride program, charged that there was a conspiracy to see that the program failed and that what happened on St. Croix was "an act of sabotage."
Smith said she sometimes had to operate the program with little or no money. "Funding has always been the problem from Day 1," she said.
Dudley John, Public Works transportation director for St. Croix, testified that he received an incomplete report from Smith and that when he contacted the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to find out if the program she managed was in good standing, he was told that it was not, the release stated. He said he had no choice but to cut off the funding.
Sonny Barnes, a disabled activist who relies on the Dial-A-Ride and Vitran systems to get from place to place, said a good transportation system for the handicapped is needed on St. Croix because a lot of people depend on it.
Committee members present for the meeting were Sens. Canton, Hansen, Jn Baptiste, Renee and Richards. Sens. Lorraine Berry and Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg were not present.

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