The Virgin Islands Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation Territorial Board approved important expenditures during Wednesday’s meeting and approved others during an executive session.
St. Thomas-St. John Hospital Board Chair Dr. Jerry Smith told the board the current infusion pumps at Schneider Regional Medical Center were at the “end of life” and are unrepairable. An infusion pump is a medical device that infuses something into a patient such as chemotherapy drugs, pain medications and even food.
Previously, the finance committee approved and recommended that the full board purchase new pumps and software from Advance Export for $347,800 and Patient-Controlled Analgesia pain pumps for $71,540. The board voted unanimously to support the purchase.
The second purchase forwarded by the finance committee was for a UPS battery backup system for the X-ray machine at SRMC. The equipment is needed to update the machine. The full board approved $125,386 for the UPS battery backup to EATON, a power management company.
Both items will be funded by the V.I. Public Finance Authority.
During the meeting, the board also approved contracts for four physicians and one certified nurse midwife for the St. Thomas hospital and six medical personnel for the Juan F. Luis Hospital.
In executive session, additional expenses were approved, including $231,070 to J. Benton Construction for mold remediation at the Charlotte Kimmelman Cancer Institute.
The board also approved a number of items for JFL, including construction work to the ambulance canopy, the temporary entrance, the CT scan area as well as signs and some lighting. The 17 items will cost JFL $498,031, according to Christopher Finch, board chair. Additionally, an emergency generator, at the cost of $409,740 was approved as well as $176,547 for temporary and permanent signs at the St. Croix facilities.
Finch said there was also a discussion about “boarders,” patients who are staying in the hospitals even though they don’t need care. Currently, there are nine people living at SRMC and eight at JFL.
“And that’s a hospital bed not available, and the staff have to take care of them. And it’s not good for the boarder either,” Finch said.
With input from the commissioners of V.I. Human Services, V.I. Health and the director the Office of Management and Budget, the hospitals are looking for possible alternative placements. They may be able to locate permanent housing at Virgin Islands facilities and as many as six people could be moved to a facility in Puerto Rico. The V.I. government has guardianship or is seeking guardianship for some of the long-term patients to allow them to move.
“Some don’t need much, just a place to live, and others need a whole lot,” Finch said.
The board also learned that the collective bargaining process with three nurses unions is moving forward. One union is almost at the point of voting on an agreement, according to Finch.
Board members attending the virtual meeting included Finch, Smith, Jenifer O’Neal, Justa Encarnacion, Dr. Anne Treasure, Bosede Bruce, Dr. Frank Odlum, Greta Hart-Hyndman and Faye John-Baptiste.