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HomeNewsLocal newsJFL North Scheduled to Open in March, CEO Tells Hospital Board

JFL North Scheduled to Open in March, CEO Tells Hospital Board

A fairly firm opening date of March 25 was announced for the new temporary Juan F. Luis Hospital at the monthly V.I. Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation Territorial Board meeting Wednesday evening.

The new temporary hospital on St. Croix is scheduled to open March 25. (Webex screenshot)

According to Doug Koch, the St. Croix hospital’s chief executive officer, a ribbon cutting on March 7 will be followed by two days of tours for the public. Then on March 25, patients will be moved into the new facility — those with the lowest acuity first — and the hospital will be open.

Last week, members of the Health, Hospital and Human Services Committee of the 35th Legislature were given a tour.

Koch said it is a “balancing act” to meet the deadline. Staff meet for three to five hours a day to set policies, procedures, line up vendors to certify medical equipment, order supplies and train staff for the new building.

“Our first priority, in the transition, is patient safety,” he said.

After the move is complete, the hospital must prepare for an inspection by the federal licensing agency — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Koch added.

Also during the meeting, Koch talked about efforts to add crucial staff, including directors of finance and human resources. The V.I. Labor and Finance departments have been engaged in the search and retainer bonuses are being offered to attract new employees.

In addition to working short-staffed and preparing for the move to the new facility, JFL staff are involved in “hours and hours of meeting and training” to implement the MedTech expansion.

After Koch’s report, Stephan Adams, CEO of the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network, gave a presentation about using the middle-mile broadband provider for both of the territory’s hospitals.

Stephan Adams, VINGN CEO, discusses a new initiative involving the territory’s hospitals at Wednesday’s board meeting. (Webex screenshot)

VINGN is a middle-mile open-access fiber optic infrastructure that provides high-speed connectivity to internet providers. Owned by the V.I. Finance Authority it is funded mainly by grants, including from the U.S. Treasury Capital Project Fund. Jenifer O’Neal, director of the V.I. Office of Management and Budget, said funds for the project have not been awarded yet.

The VI Fiber Cloud is a new initiative and a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act) compliant medical data center. Should the mainland cables be severed, digital medical records would not be lost, Adams said.

“VINGN has historically been a middle-mile carrier but we’re looking to diversify on fiber delivery and broadband in the territory for all of the ISPs who buy it from us and resell it to the community,” he said.

Adams said they plan to provide fiber access points at various points on the islands and the program will include adding hot spots to a total of 90 in the Virgin Islands, including at the airports.

One of the first objectives, Adams said, is to establish/build and operate two data centers with firewalls and other security to store and share data with doctors, hospitals and clinics while maintaining HIPAA compliance.

Another objective is to establish a telemedicine hub that will exchange patient data between medical professionals. Some citizens will receive free wi-fi-enabled devices to share their vital statistics with doctors, hospitals and clinics.

Additionally, seniors living in residential facilities or alone in a home will be given computers and training to keep them connected with their families and medical care.

During the meeting, the board also approved a number of medical physicians and other workers for one- or two-year certifications at Schneider Regional Medical Center and JFL. The board moved into executive session to discuss other matters.

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