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HomeNewsArchivesHealth Department Breaks Ground for $4.1 Million Eldra Schulterbrandt Annex

Health Department Breaks Ground for $4.1 Million Eldra Schulterbrandt Annex

May 15, 2008 — The Department of Health will expand its Eldra Schulterbrandt residential facility in Anna's Retreat by adding a new $4.1 million annex, and held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the site.
The existing facility was built in 1994 and served as the new residence for patients once living at Michelle Motel in Estate Contant. The 31 patients were relocated from Michelle Motel because the building had "several structural deficiencies" and could not serve as a long-term living facility, according to Health officials.
As the demand for more mental health care services began to grow, plans were put in place to double the facility's capacity by building an annex to provide the same long-term residential care to patients, said Health Commissioner Vivian Ebbesen-Fludd during Thursday's ceremony.
The groundbreaking also commemorates Mental Health Month, which will be honored throughout the month of May with activities and events built on defining mental illness, discussing what consequences occur when mental illness goes untreated, and erasing the stigma associated with mental illness in the territory.
"The annex, once completed, will increase the capacity of long-term care resourcing in the Virgin Islands," Ebbesen-Fludd said. "But this is just the beginning of a long process to improve the services available to our mentally ill population in the territory."
Studies show that one out of every three individuals experiences psychiatric symptoms every year, she said.
"Sometimes in the Department of Health you think it's every day," Ebbesen-Fludd said. "It is important to recognize the significance of such signs of depression and nervousness and the importance social connectiveness plays in maintaining and protecting one's mental health status. People who feel valued are much more resilient and able to deal with the kind of stress that leads to mental illness."
Carrying out the administration's priority of raising the standard and quality of mental health care in the territory, first lady Cecile deJongh spoke of forming a mental health planning committee that would come up with short- and long-term goals for addressing mental health issues.
"We have to be more tolerant and more helpful in aiding those that need specialized care," she said. "And we're taking steps in the right direction. But we have to make mental health a priority for everyone, and ensure that individuals needing care and access to services are able to lead more productive lives."
Also speaking at Thursday's event were Ray Fonseca, acting mental health director for the Department of Health; Senate President Usie Richards; Public Finance Authority Director Julito Francis; and Raymond Williams, representing Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis.
The new annex was designed by the Jaredian Design Group and will be funded by the Public Finance Authority through a combination of bond proceeds and tobacco-settlement funds.
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