With a quiet ceremony and a buffet Monday, Frederiksted Health Care held an open house at the Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged to take notice of National Health Center Week.
Frederiksted Health Care, a private, non-profit corporation, took over operation of the Frederiksted Health Center and the school-based health center at St. Croix Educational Complex in 2006. Formerly part of the Health Department, these clinics have a mandate to provide health care without regard to ability to pay. National Health Center Week was established to give attention to clinics and medical centers that provide care to underserved communities.
The clinic’s Frederiksted facility has been closed for mold remediation since April of 2008, when operations moved to a wing of the Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged in Kingshill, about a 15-minute drive from the Frederiksted center.
“Originally we were only supposed to be here for three months," said Masserae Sprauve-Webster, chief executive officer of the clinic. "Now it has been one and a half years we’ve been their guests. You would expect some problems with the stress of working together in close quarters, but it hasn’t been that way at all. Everyone has been welcoming and helpful."
Currently, the clinic is hoping to complete mold remediation and renovations to its Frederiksted facility by the end of the year.
Dr. Jamila Benn, the Frederiksted Health Center’s chief medical officer, said the center’s goal is to increase the services offered to its clients, regardless of where the clinic is housed.
"We’ve added a nephrologist and an ophthalmologist to our staff," Benn said, proceeding to list the medical services offered at the clinic. "We are expanding our offerings. … Soon we will be offering ophthalmological care at the clinic."
Deputy Commissioner of Human Services Vera Falu, who oversees the Grigg Home, agreed and said the Frederiksted Health Center was providing top-notch care from their temporary offices.
"I feel aggrieved when I hear on the radio and in the media the clinic is shut and people are not getting care," Falu said. "The clinic is open and offering all services — it is just a short way, 15 minutes down the road."
Falu described the clinic’s efforts to shuttle patients up the Grigg Home driveway, saving elderly patients the difficulty of walking from the Queen Mary Highway where they are dropped off by buses and taxis, and said the clinic was devoted to serving its clientele.
"We are all serving the same people," she said.
Webster gave Falu a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the clinic, thanking her for sharing space at the Grigg Home and making the clinic staff welcome.
Maintenance supervisor Jason Williams was given a small award and a few words of thanks as well.
"Mr. Williams, any time we have had a crisis and something needed to be fixed, you have always come right away and taken care of us. Thank you," Webster said.
Once all the ceremonial proceedings were dispensed with, the small audience adjourned for a light lunch buffet.