Disability Rights Center Says JFL Making ‘Significant Progress’

After meeting with Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital executives recently, representatives from the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands said they were "very pleased" with "significant progress" in mental health care at the hospital.

The two-hour meeting with DRCVI and community activists covered the history of a class-action lawsuit brought by DRCVI in 2003, the consent decree that resulted from the litigation, and the creation of a five-year mental health strategic plan for the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a statement from DRCVI.

The hospital’s chief executive officer, Dr. Kendall Griffith, told the group its closed acute care inpatient psychiatric unit will be rebuilt and reopened after the territory receives a $1 million refund from CIGNA insurance company for past premium over-payments A legislative act allocates $1 million to JFL to “rebuild and restore” the inpatient psychiatric unit. After a bidding process and about six months of construction, the hospital hopes to have a unit that will contain 4 beds for adults and a separate 2-bed unit for adolescents. The hospital’s operational funds will be used for staffing the acute care inpatient unit.

The hospital gave DRCVI meeting participants a tour of the three-bed seclusion unit that has been reserved for patients with acute mental health service needs. Hospital officials indicated that the space would be available in a couple of weeks.

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DRCVI Executive Director Amelia Headley LaMont said in a statement, “We are very pleased by what appears to be significant progress on the part of the Juan F. Luis Hospital and its response to the treatment and care of persons with mental health disabilities."

"We will continue to advocate vigorously for the civil and human rights of persons with disabilities and we look forward to a cordial and continually productive working relationship," she said.

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