Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion updates the community on various infrastructure upgrades that will assist in supporting and expanding public health services throughout the territory.
V.I. Department of Health remains on schedule to complete the construction of the new Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) at the Knud Hansen Building on St. Thomas, in September of 2023.
“As of this week, the project is about 55 percent complete and our contractor J Benton Construction indicates the reconstruction will be substantially complete by the beginning of August,” said Commissioner Encarnacion.
“This is great news for us. We have been eagerly awaiting the opening of this rebuild of the WIC. The Knud Hansen Building will restore the physical building and replace equipment, technology and other infrastructure damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. When completed, this new 5,200 square foot, state-of-the-art structure will provide a central service location for the staff and participants of the WIC Program,” she said.
The $3.7 million in funding for the rebuild is provided through a $6.3 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant awarded to the V.I. Health Department in August 2018 for the WIC program. This award is pursuant to the authorities of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
On St. Croix, the V.I. Department of Health is also reconstructing the WIC Building in Frederiksted which is slated to be completed in the third quarter of 2023 utilizing the USDA grant previously referenced.
“Our Project Management Team is working feverishly on the demolition and rebuild of the Charles Harwood Memorial Complex in Christiansted with news of the groundbreaking coming within the next few weeks,” Encarnacion said. The new facility will serve the 1, 600 clients on St. Thomas.
The Morris de Castro Clinic on St. John is in the design vendor selection phase after the prudent replacement decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Key stakeholders on St. John will be invited to the table to give input on the new building. The cost to rebuild is estimated at $17.5 million.
The Department of Health is currently in the procurement phase for a contractor to begin the design development for a behavioral health facility on St. Croix.
The existing structure housed only 12 persons, which is too small and not in alignment with best practices for behavioral in-patient services,” Encarnacion said. “Our community is in need of a transition care facility that will prepare patients to re-enter the workforce and family living situations. Once a vendor is selected, the department is poised to continue the design development process.”
The new Charles Harwood rebuild will capture a full floor of behavioral integrated services that include outpatient services, day treatment, clubhouse activities and access to outreach services.
The V.I. Health Department is also in continued dialogue with FEMA to determine the status and cost to rebuild the Eldra Schulterbrandt Long Term Care Facility main campus and annex on St. Thomas.