JFL Prepares To Move ER to VICC

A temporary sewer bypass continues to hold as the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital prepares to move the emergency department temporarily to the adjacent Virgin Islands Cardiac Center by June 14, board members learned Thursday.

On May 2, the first floor sewer pipes backed up for the first time and government officials and other experts determined the decades old cast iron pipes were crumbling. Waste removal trucks and portable toilets were brought in and are still being used to deal with the crisis.

Gov. Kenneth Mapp requested $3 million for repairs from the V.I. Legislature who finally approved the amount Thursday.

In the meantime, hospital administrators established a task force to plan to relocate the JFL Emergency Department to the VICC as soon as feasible.

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Hazel Philbert-Thomas, vice president of quality and performance improvement, updated the board on the logistics of the move at Thursday’s meeting.

So far, 15 rooms have been identified for JFL’s use, including three being remodeled for behavioral patients. Infection control and other procedures are being written, parking and signage are being created and staff is being recruited, she said. And, a specific area is being designated for cardiac patients.

“This is a huge venture for us,” Philbert-Thomas said. “The move by June 14 is contingent on many things.”

Asked for a back-up date, Philbert-Thomas said, “Everything looks pretty much for June 14.”

Before the actual move, consultants from Greeley Life Safety will review the relocation plan as well as the facility, and the board will tour the area.

Consultants are also assessing the state of the hospital’s sewer system to determine the extent of repairs needed. Representatives from the V.I. Waste Management Authority estimated it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to repair the degrading metal pipes throughout the territory.

Richard Evangelista, the hospital’s acting chief executive officer, did not attend the meeting but said, in a written report, that the hospital continues to monitor regularly the drainage issues and the potential infection risk. He also promised to educate the community prior to relocating the department.

The board also approved three new medical staff appointments and four reappointments. committee and financial reports. Several other ongoing discussions were deferred to the next meeting, due to Evangelista’s absence.

The meeting ended with an executive session. Board members in attendance were Aracelis Walcott, chair, Theresa Frorup-Alie, Troy Schuster and Vera Falu. Philip Arcidi and Aida Bermudez joined by phone.

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