Jan. 25, 2006 — A memorandum of understanding between the Health Department and Tutu Park Mall will keep East End Family Medical Health Clinic from being evicted from its present location, according to Sen. Liston Davis.
When contacted Wednesday, Davis said the clinic was in danger of being evicted from its location at the mall because more than $245,000 in back rent was owed.
"But the thing is, that this amount was due when the clinic was part of the Health Department," Davis said. "Then about five years ago, a law was passed by the federal government which made the clinic, along with the Frederiksted Health Center on St. Croix, an independent nonprofit corporation. So, after that, there was a little dispute over whether the back rent was owed to the mall by the clinic itself or by the government."
Davis said the issue recently went to the territory's district court, where it was decided that the V.I. government, through the Health Department, was responsible for paying the money.
A press release sent from Davis' office Tuesday said a meeting was held between representatives from the clinic, the mall, and the Health Department to further resolve the issue.
During the meeting, Davis said a payment plan was agreed upon by all three entities. Under this plan, the government would pay 25 percent up front (roughly $61,000) of the money owed and would continue to pay the difference in installments until a supplemental budget appropriating the rest of the money is sent to the Legislature by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull.
Davis said the meeting was also held to discuss the transformation of the clinic from an entity under the Health Department to an independent nonprofit corporation.
"Since the clinic used to be under the Health Department, there were government employees working there," Davis said. "But that law was passed a while ago, and those employees have not been transferred back to the Health Department."
According to the release, Annetta Heyliger, chief financial officer for the East End clinic, said at the meeting that she could not complete the transfer without access to certain information contained in the Financial Management System from the Health and Finance departments.
Heyliger also said that she needed additional staff to complete the transfer, as well as extra money from the government to finish an audit, which is required by federal law before the clinic can become an independent organization.
Heyliger further stated that the clinic is currently having trouble paying various vendor bills because their funds are still being appropriated and administered by the local government.
Davis said Wednesday an agreement was also made at the meeting to resolve this issue: "We decided that the Health Department would support a temporary increase in the clinic's current appropriation so that these financial obligations could be taken care of."
However, Davis did not say whether the clinic would continue to be funded by the government or whether they would operate on federal funding.
Heyliger did not return calls Wednesday from the Source to discuss the matter.
Davis added that representatives from the Frederiksted Health Center also attended Tuesday's meeting and said that their transfer from the Health Department is complete.
Davis said a follow-up meeting is scheduled for Feb. 3 to discuss the funding issues of the two clinics.
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