Sept. 5, 2006 — The Department of Health is still waiting for Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to approve a request to use 3.5 acres of land behind Schneider Regional Medical Center for the construction of a new health center and ambulance hub.
In a press release sent from Government House Tuesday, Turnbull has issued an executive order approving only a portion of the land, approximately 3,144 square feet, for the department's use — less than one-tenth of an acre. According to Health representatives, this is nowhere near the amount of land needed to house the entire facility.
Additionally, funding awarded to the department by the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) hinges upon the department receiving the entire 3.5 acres (roughly 150,000 square feet) from the local government. Health spokeswoman Eunice Bedminster said Tuesday evening that HRSA will be contributing in excess of $330,000 to help build the ambulance hub, which will include living quarters for emergency medical technicians.
"We are in limbo. We do not know whether the 3,144 square feet of land approved by the governor for DOH's use is all that we're going to get," Bedminster said. "We are grateful that the governor has approved a portion of our request and hopeful that he will approve the additional acreage since our HRSA funding hinges on it."
She added that the executive order "does not say anything" about the remaining acreage, which will house a health center akin to the Charles Howard Medical Center on St. Croix, a 91,000-square-foot facility that accommodates Health's administrative offices and 15 other agencies.
On St. Thomas, Health operates out of seven different locations on the east and west ends of the island. According to the press release sent by Government House, Health Commissioner Darlene Carty has been working for almost a year to acquire the land from the V.I. government in order to build a "one-stop" facility, which will bring a majority of the department's offices and services together.
Funding for the facility – which totals approximately $3.2 million – will come from the Tobacco Settlement bonds managed by the territory's Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation and issued by the Public Finance Authority.
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