The Juan F. Luis Medical Center unveiled its much-anticipated women’s imaging suite – which offers mammography, sonography and bone density testing services – at a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday.
During the ceremony, Kye Walker, chairwoman of JFL’s board of directors, said women deserve a special suite at the hospital tailored towards their needs.
“Women are often time the health care decision makers in their families and often they put themselves last,” she said.
Walker called the suite, which was four years in the making, an ideal example of a successful public/private partnership.
Sen. Nereida “Nellie” Rivera-O’Reilly was singled out and given an award from the hospital for her efforts to secure, since 2009, $400,000 from the central government to build the suite.
O’Reilly said she initially got involved with the project in an effort to boost the availability of mammography services on St. Croix, but that the hospital had a broader vision. She congratulated JFL for seeing the project through to its end.
The hospital also recognized the private donors who contributed, including the Klindsworth family.
While the suite is a self-contained center within JFL, David Williams, director of diagnostic imaging, said the suite was specifically designed so it did not look like part of the hospital.
Its interior features tiled floors and the walls are painted with a palette of warm, soothing colors rather than the sterile white of the hospital at large, Williams said.
“We wanted to create something that is not just a room.”
He explained that mammography was an uncomfortable procedure, both physically and mentally, so they wanted to create a soothing space to take some of the stress out of the experience.
“You have to create an environment where they’re relaxed and calm,” he said.
Billing and registration services are also handled within the suite, so patients do not have to visit any other part of the hospital.
Deepak Bansal, JFL hospital’s chief financial officer, said they were cognizant of their competition while designing the suite. He said the hospital hoped to attract insured patients into the facility, so it was important to make the suite as much like a private doctor’s office as possible.
Williams said the challenge is “to create a program that is financially viable and will pass the test of time,” adding that he will continue to seek grants to help support the suite’s operations.
The brief ceremony was followed by a refreshments and tours of the facility and, as if to underline their eagerness to attract patients quickly, a nurse informed the senators and dignitaries assembled that she could make an appointment for them right then and there.
Dr. Kendall Griffith, the interim chief executive officer at JFL, heralded the opening of the center as a major success for the hospital and a sign that institution’s services and fortunes were improving.
“Our mission is to drive improvement in the health of those we serve while exemplifying compassion and respect. We do it well. We’re going to continue to do it well and we’re going to get better,” he said.