The U.S. Virgin Islands government hopes to acquire the Sea View Nursing Home and get it re-certified and re-opened, Gov Kenneth E. Mapp said Monday at a news conference, at which he and Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter went quickly from damage control on the abrupt transfer of patients to “Let’s move on.”
Mapp had admitted at a meeting Saturday that the action on the part of Human Services Commissioner-designee Anita Roberts was “insensitive and improper” and he has apologized to the families. He emphasized those points several times during Monday’s news conference.
Then he turned his attention to the government’s renewed efforts to acquire Sea View, get it re-certified by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services so that it can receive Medicare and Medicaid funds, renovate it, and add 10 to 15 more beds.
But it’s not as easy as just saying, it, he emphasized.
“Sea View is a private enterprise,” he said. “We cannot just go in there and take it over.”
The governor said he had been talking for several months to Sea View’s owners and a management team about what could be done to save Sea View. Those talks apparently stalled when it appeared that only a large infusion of cash from the government could save Sea View. Mapp threw out the figure of $6 million dollars.
“We don’t have an appropriation like that,” the governor said.
Some of the necessary money could probably be found, he said, but the residents who were removed from the facility without notice last week are not out of the woods yet. Mapp said individuals simply could not remain under the care of a nursing home that has lost federal certification and was not meeting operating standards. He pledged to explore other options for the possible reopening of the facility, but said in the meantime services had been expanded at the Queen Louise Home for the Aged with 13 new employees to be hired to assist with patient care.
Families of the former Sea View residents are free to pursue any other viable option for the care of their loved ones, he said, but remaining at Sea View is not possible at this time.
A report from the V.I. Department of Health about its impromptu inspection on Sept. 29 of Sea View was distributed at Monday’s news conference. The report listed 13 items of concern, which included visible dead and live cockroaches, evidence of vermin in patients’ rooms, cistern water used in food preparation, broken furniture in patients’ rooms, unsafe food handling, and trash, sludge and a dead frog in the water treatment system.
When Potter spoke at Monday’s news conference, it was to urge residents to move on. He said it would not do any good to try to find someone to blame for getting where "we are.”
“We are here," he said. "The government has stepped up to the plate and we are moving forward.”