After extensive negotiations, the territory is on track to reestablishing cancer treatments, according to the Office of Disaster Recovery. FEMA has awarded the territory $50 million to reconstruct the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute on St. Thomas, the agency announced Tuesday.
In 2017 following hurricanes Irma and Maria, the facility was forced to close due to irreparable damage to critical equipment and systems. This loss left a huge gap in medical care that, to date, could not be filled, the office said in a release announcing the funding. Prior to the storms, the medical center administered cancer treatment to the territory’s residents and visitors from other Eastern Caribbean islands.
In June 2021, FEMA approved the complete replacement of the facility. A little over a year later, the Schneider Regional Medical Center now has access to the funding to begin demolition and reconstruction, the release stated.
“The replacement of the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute on St. Thomas will revitalize critical medical services, providing life-saving and life-sustaining treatment for cancer patients across the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said U.S. Virgin Islands Recovery Director Kristen A. Hodge.
“The inclusion of hazard mitigation measures in this project will protect the Kimelman Cancer Institute from the loss of service due to power failures during future weather events.”
The Hospital Redevelopment Team is currently soliciting bids, until July 18, for the selective demolition of the facility, the release stated.
“We have begun the program redevelopment of the Cancer Center through a series of meetings which has included the Territorial Board, senior leadership, and key stakeholders within the Schneider Regional Medical Center,” said Darryl A. Smalls, executive director of the Territorial Hospital Redevelopment Team. “Design work began in the summer of 2021, and we will continue collaborating with EYP Architects to finalize plans for the new facility by September 2022.”
The solicitation for reconstruction is expected to be issued by October and will run concurrently with demolition activities.
“Rebuilding a resilient, state-of-the-art cancer facility has been one of Governor Bryan’s top priorities,” said Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien, director of the Office of Disaster Recovery. “This significant milestone could not have been achieved without the support of our local and federal partners. This project kicks off the reconstruction of healthcare facilities across the territory.”