The Territorial Hospital Board last week approved contractors for architecture and engineering designs for the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix, Schneider Regional Medical Center and Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute on St. Thomas and St. John’s Myrah Keating Smith Clinic.
The board voted unanimously to award three firms contracts for the four projects: $12,948,272 to Flad & Associates to design Juan Luis; $5,870,000 and $966,000 to EYP Architects and Engineers for Schneider Regional and Charlotte Kimelman respectively; and $1,529,770 to SmithGroup to design the Myrah Keating Clinic.
FEMA will cover 90 percent of the cost and the local match will be paid for with a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The federal government will cover only costs to replace what was there. Anything additional, such as new services or more beds will be paid for by the V.I. government, according to board president Christopher Finch.
Darryl Smalls, vice president of Schneider Regional Facilities Management, who will oversee the project territorywide, said it could take between six to 18 months just to get the designs. Finch pointed out that the designs must be flexible, and the facilities should be relevant for decades.
A big part of the process will be deciding which functions the territory’s health care facilities will serve and if other community entities can be responsible for some services such as psychiatric care, Finch said. For instance, if the hospitals begin performing joint replacement surgeries, there will be a need for rehabilitation wings, designated beds or separate facilities.
“Hospitals are part of the health care system, not the system itself,” Finch said.
Another issue to deal with is how to care for “boarders,” or long-term patients whose families abandon them in the hospital. There are no outside facilities to care for them, so the territory needs nursing homes or beds designated at the hospitals for those patients.
One year ago, Dyma Williams, interim chief executive officer for Juan Luis, formed a project team that collaborated with health care architectural and engineering experts to help plan a temporary structure and a new hospital. Schneider Hospital has also formed a project team.
In May, the hospital redevelopment team – both hospitals’ project management teams, led by Smalls – released the bid requests for the facilities. Finch said there was a lot of bidding interest and all bids were reviewed after the July deadline.
Although the territorial board made the final decision, there were experts, hospital administrators and government officials who participated in the selection process. The evaluation committee, who studied all of the bids, included representatives from Property and Procurement, Public Works, Health Department and both hospitals. The committee was chaired by Dynell Williams, Property and Procurement assistant commissioner.
The evaluation committee then narrowed the bids to four and invited the companies to the territory to present their proposals in person. They also asked for each company’s best price, Finch said. The four bidders were rated and presented to the hospital board with their recommendations. Then the board selected the contractors.
Finch said the work gathering information to prepare the contracts begins soon and the hospital board will ensure it’s done carefully.
“We committed, as a board, that we were going to try to make the process move along as quickly as it possibly can,” he said.
The 2017 hurricanes severely damaged the territory’s health care facilities, especially the St. Croix hospital. Temporary structures are still being constructed adjacent to the Juan Luis, and the St. John clinic has a temporary structure next to the original structure.
Schneider Hospital and the Kimelman Cancer Institute were also severely damaged. The St. Thomas hospital was able to operate shortly after the storms but still needs major repairs. Kimelman remains closed and has been approved for repairs. FEMA agreed recently to a dollar amount for reconstruction and repairs.