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Spring 2012 Is Target for Reopening Frederiksted Health Center

Once mold remediation is completed at the Frederiksted Health Center, repairs will begin — and as for moving back in, "the plan is for around spring of next year," clinic Executive Director Masserae Sprauve-Webster said in Senate budget hearings Friday.

The clinic’s Frederiksted facility has been closed for mold remediation since April of 2008, when operations moved to a wing of the Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged in Kingshill, about a 15-minute drive from the Frederiksted center. Mold cleanup, along with some minor renovations and a major air-conditioning overhaul, was meant to last four to five months. But delays in funding helped delay the work.

Webster and clinic management presented a 2011 budget of just under $1.9 million during Friday’s hearing of the Appropriation and Budget Committee in Frederiksted. The sum is $371,000 more than the governor’s recommended 2011 budget of $1.4 million and more than its 2010 appropriation by the same amount. Last year, the clinic made up the difference with internal program funds generated by fees for services, Webster said.

"The program revenues are meant to fund expansions in service, which we are not able to do," she said. "And right now we have quite a few vacancies, so this would allow us to have the staff that we need."

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For the last 10 years, Frederiksted Health Care Inc. has run the clinic as a private nonprofit organization with federal and local funding, along with fee for service revenue. It has a mandate to provide health care without regard to ability to pay. It also operates the school-based health center at St. Croix Educational Complex. Splitting off from the local government allowed the clinic to access more federal funding, largely in the form of Ryan White grants for HIV/AIDS prevention and care.

The clinic expects another $1.68 million in federal funding and $500,000 from fees for services this year. Combined, the clinic’s projected total budget from all sources is $4.04 million, an increase of $654,000 from 2010.

Out of the $1.9 million local funding, $1.1 million will go for personnel wages and salaries; another $381,000 for benefits, $150,000 for utilities, $50,000 for telephone bills and communications and $150,000 for other services.

Patient volume is increasing at the clinic, according to data its staff provided the Senate. In 2009, the clinic had 13,656 patient visits; 10,404 in 2008; and 9,569 in 2007. In 2009, 20 percent were uninsured, 55 percent had Medical Assistance Program coverage, which is the name for Medicaid in the territory; 14 percent were on Medicare; and 12 percent had private insurance.

No bills were voted upon during the information-gathering hearing. Present were James, Sens. Craig Barshinger, Terrence "Positive" Nelson and Sammuel Sanes. Absent were Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Louis Hill and Patrick Sprauve.

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