St. Croix already wants more autonomy from our centralized government on St. Thomas; why would St. Croix want a centralized hospital administration? Centralization has already created a stranglehold on the St. Croix economy, and now those in authority want to have a stranglehold on St. Croix's health.
The oil and rum revenues are controlled for the proliferation of centralization already. This is morally, economically, politically and downright wrong. Do you think for a minute that St. Thomas would consider having the administrator located at Juan F. Luis Hospital?
It appears to have been a recommendation of the governor's financial advisers. We all know who they are, and we all know where they reside — there didn't seem to be many St. Croix residents in that group.
Cutting costs is an imperative of the bloated centralized authority, but removing the autonomy of the St. Croix hospital will never benefit St. Croix. Too bad the governor's advisers were not more concerned about the enormous raises they received from the governor without much input from anyone else.
(It is also very apparent why they would not recommend rescinding the raises — because their retirement is based upon their "step," and going from perhaps $95,000 back down to $75,000 would affect their retirement income. Take a look at the retirement system. Rescind the raises and save money. That would automatically amount to more than the cost of the St. Croix hospital administrator.)
Centralization of anything is not the answer in the Virgin Islands. It doesn't work in any other area, such as Public Works, Personnel and Finance (Which island had problems getting checks cut?). Even a cursory examination of the problems of the V.I. hospital systems would reveal huge differences between health concerns on St. Croix and on St. Thomas. St. Croix's population is perhaps 40 percent Hispanic.
If the hospitals were able to collect their receivables, the losses would be greatly diminished. Also, there is a rumor that perhaps nationals of some islands nearby to St. Thomas go there to have their babies, who can automatically become U.S. citizens. Do they all pay their St. Thomas hospital bills?
Getting back to the root of the problem, which is finances or the lack thereof: Governor, Senators, you all know what must be done. It's only a question of when it will be done. Do your job, or you'll pay for it in the subsequent elections, regardless of how much money you try to borrow. Don't count on St. Croix to bail you out again, for we have only one Hovensa and only one Cruzan. Stealing our hospital administration and autonomy will not save anything; it will merely create a larger bureaucracy centralized on the second-largest U.S. Virgin Island.
A stranglehold on the St. Croix economy is bad enough, but a stranglehold on the health of St. Croix is abominable and unacceptable.
Robert V. Vaughn
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