87.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 12, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesHealth Cutting Back Services at DeCastro Clinic

Health Cutting Back Services at DeCastro Clinic

St. John’s Morris DeCastro Clinic is cutting back hours and services to save money, which has Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center and the St. Thomas East End Medical Center concerned about absorbing the costs of the services, officials told a senate panel Wednesday.

The Health and Hospitals Committee met on St. John Wednesday to discuss the status of the DeCastro Clinic, which is operated by the Health Department. It is the smaller of two government clinics on St. John, the other being the Keating Smith Center, which is open 24 hours a day and operated by the semi-autonomous, government-owned Roy L. Schneider Regional Medical Center.

Family planning services will continue to be offered by the Health Department on St. Thomas but not at the DeCastro Clinic on St. John, according to Health Commissioner Mercedes Dullum. She said that in addition to reducing clinic hours of operation, they are also cutting family planning services, due to a lack of staffing for those services.

Sen. Patrick Sprauve, the committee chairman, asked if the DeCastro Clinic was going to close.

Dullum replied there were no plans to close the clinic, adding that "until we are out of these economic troubles, we will have to keep an eye on it."

Angela Rennalls-Atkinson, interim chief executive officer of Schneider Medical Center, testified that the Keating Smith Clinic is already stretched to capacity and has new unfunded local legislative mandates on e-Prescribing and electronic records, as well as millions of dollars in information technology to meet federal grant requirements.

"Myrah Keating Smith is not in a position to assume any increased volumes resulting from the closing of the Morris DeCastro Clinic without additional funding from the central government," Rennalls-Atkinson said.

Meanwhile the St. Thomas East End Medical Clinic needs at least $332,000 in additional government funding just to maintain its current services, according to Executive Director Wilbur Smith. Any significant flow of patients from the DeCastro Clinic would change the East End clinic’s ratio of payment types, bringing in more uninsured and self-pay patients and putting a strain on its resources, Smith said.

Asked by senators whether Health would be giving funding to these other clinics for the services they would have to provide, District Health Officer Marc Jerome said the department would provide supplies, records, materials and logistical help, but did not have funding to provide.

There were no votes at the information gathering hearing. Present were Sprauve, Sens. Craig Barshinger, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly and Janette Millin-Young. Absent were Sens. Usie Richards, Shawn-Michael Malone, Sammuel Sanes and Alvin Williams.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.