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Cruz Bay
Thursday, September 29, 2022


Despite admitted concerns, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has signed the Hospital Autonomy bill that was approved by the Legislature in April.
The bill, cosponsored by Allie "Allison" Petrus, chair of the Health Committee, allows the territory's hospitals to handle their own finances, personnel and procurement.
Other sponsors of the bill were Lorraine Berry, Almando "Rocky" Liburd, Anne Golden, Gregory Bennerson, Vargrave Richards, Donald "Ducks" Cole, Roosevelt David, Norman Jn. Baptiste, and George Goodwin.
Turnbull said he was specifically concerned about the hospitals' authority to negotiate union contracts, which could "unduly burden the general fund."
Turnbull also pointed out that hospital employees, under the bill, would still be classified, unlike other autonomous agencies where employees are classified as exempt. The designation of hospital employees as classified seemingly defeats the purpose of autonomy.
Turnbull said he would submit corrective legislation on the problem areas within the next 30 days.
The chief executive officers of both of the territory's hospitals, Thomas D. Robinson of Juan Luis Hospital and Eugene Woods of the Roy L. Schneider hospital, thanked Turnbull for signing the bill, saying, "It is estimated that millions and millions of healthcare dollars leave the territory each year. If we can recapture one half of the dollars leaving and these dollars circulate three times in the economy the hospitals can have a conservative impact of $40 million in the territory."
The CEOs said, in a joint release, hospitals can be major employers and could attract additional outside dollars to the islands.
They outlined a plan to increase the feasibility of making the hospitals moneymakers. Among the points:
— Work with employees to assist them in becoming more customer-oriented.
— Explore the feasibility of adding needed new services.
— Operate the most cost-efficient hospitals possible within the constraints in which we exist.
Woods and Robinson called the move to more autonomy a "bold and historic step."

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