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Friday, March 1, 2024


July 14, 2001 — The aging infrastructure at St. Croix’s Juan F. Luis Hospital has caused grisly situations and spurred a local senator to seek an investigation by the federal government.
The refrigeration unit that keeps the hospital’s morgue cool has broken down on at least one occasion, causing a body to decompose before the deceased's family could remove it for an open-casket service. The family reported the situation to Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, who blasted hospital officials in June for a similar incident.
"So, here we are again with families being confronted with the rotting, disfigured and foul-smelling corpses of their loved ones," Hansen said earlier this week. "This is totally unacceptable and I’m calling on the public . . . to support my appeal to the governor and the chief executive officer [Thomas Robinson] of the Juan Luis Hospital to equip the morgue . . . with the proper refrigeration and not allow this sordid, appalling and unacceptable situation to continue."
On July 11, Hansen wrote to Tommy Thompson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, seeking an investigation and recommendations for corrective action.
Robinson said the hospital's entire air-conditioning system went down earlier in July, affecting the morgue. It has since been repaired, he said.
He blamed the problem with the air-conditioning on the aging hospital itself, saying the entire water pipe system must be replaced, at a cost of $4.5 million.
"The whole infrastructure of the hospital has problems," Robinson said. "There are things that have to be replaced." He said he was negotiating a contract for an engineering study of the facility.
"These problems are well documented and have been occurring since well before my arrival," he added.
Hansen, meanwhile, is sponsoring legislation to provide the hospital, which is now semi-autonomous, with $80,000 to purchase a new refrigeration unit.

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