DeJongh nominates 2 to Luis Hospital board


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ST. CROIX - Gov. John deJongh Jr. has nominated two people to the Luis Hospital board in a move that - if they receive Senate confirmation - would allow the board to conduct the hospital's business for the first time in a year.

DeJongh in June submitted to Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone the names of Kimberly Jones and Troy de Chabert-Schuster as candidates for the Luis Hospital board.

The two St. Croix residents have to go through a Senate confirmation process, but if they get a nod from the 30th Legislature, they would fill enough seats on the depleted board for it to muster a quorum.

Sen. Sammuel Sanes, chairman of the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee, said he wants to move the nominees through the process as quickly as possible and is trying to get a date set for a hearing.

Kimberly Jones

Jones runs LICA Holdings, which includes Salt River Marina, a restaurant and a sailing school.

Her background includes working at Luis Hospital as a licensed practical nurse. She has also worked as a peritoneal dialysis nurse and has a certification as a medical billing specialist from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to information in her nomination packet.

"I was trained here locally as a nurse. I actually worked at Gov. Juan Luis Hospital," she said, adding that she also worked helping set up the Virgin Islands Kidney Center and worked with compliance and CMS standards.

One of the reasons she wants to join the board, she said, is that she knows "a lot of the hurdles that they're facing" and will be able to bring a new perspective.

Jones said she would like to see the territory's hospitals become more consolidated into a single health care system, which she thinks would allow for more efficient operations.

Troy de Chabert-Schuster

De Chabert-Schuster owns and manages The Medicine Shoppe pharmacy in Sunny Isle.

He noted that his family has what he called "a vested interest in the hospital."

"My mother and her siblings donated all 14 acres the hospital sits on to the government of the Virgin Islands," he said.

De Chabert-Schuster's background includes time in the priesthood. He was employed by the Catholic Diocese of St. Thomas from 1995 to 2006 and was pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help from 1999 to 2006. He left the priesthood, he said, because of political tension within the church in the territory at the time, but he said he remains a staunch Catholic and loves the church.

"I just found it better to leave, to leave peacefully, voluntarily," he said, noting that he is "still a Catholic in good standing" and maintains "a healthy relationship with the church."

His nomination package includes a letter from the Most Rev. Herbert Bevard, Bishop of St. Thomas, endorsing his nomination and noting that de Chabert-Schuster remains in good standing with the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and has never had disciplinary action taken against him. The packet also contains a letter of "strong endorsement" from Elliot Thomas, Bishop Emeritus of the diocese.

De Chabert-Schuster said he thinks it will be important for those working at the hospital to find common ground.

"I think that the most important thing is to bring people together to work together," he said, adding that he believes the hospital has a great staff.

He also said he hopes to work on getting more federal funding for the hospital.

Reaching a quorum

Luis Hospital's board currently has only three members - Dr. Anthony Ricketts, Joyce Heyliger and Philip Arcidi - and six vacant seats. If Jones and de Chabert-Schuster are confirmed, the board would have five members, just enough to muster a quorum to conduct business. It would still have four vacant seats.

In July 2013, the days before the Luis Hospital board officially lost its quorum were marked by controversy and drama and tensions between some members of the hospital board and interim chief executive officer Dr. Kendall Griffith.

Griffith had resigned July 9, 2013, and several senators intervened.

The senators petitioned for a special session during which the 30th Legislature would have considered legislation that they said would temporarily abolish the Luis Hospital board, reinstate Griffith and provide more money to the cash-strapped hospital.

However, before the session was took place, the board reinstated Griffith to his post, and chairwoman Kye Walker and member Imelda Dizon resigned their seats, leaving the board without a quorum.

The senators then called off the session, and it never happened.

Luis Hospital has been without a quorum on its board ever since.

Previous nominees

In November 2013, Government House announced that deJongh had nominated two people, Arcidi and Pastor Dexter Skepple, to fill two of the empty seats on the Luis board.

In December, though, member Wallace Phaire resigned from the board, leaving it with only two sitting members - Ricketts and Heyliger - and the two nominees.

Although the nominations of Arcidi and Skepple passed through their Rules Committee confirmation hearings, Skepple withdrew his nomination before the full Senate acted on it. Arcidi was confirmed by the full Senate.

The territorial hospital board, with a majority of members from St. Thomas, has been responsible for overseeing Luis Hospital for the last year, acting instead of the Luis Hospital board. Its meetings since the Luis Hospital board lost its quorum have all been on St. Thomas.

The territory's hospitals are semi-autonomous agencies which are, by law, overseen by boards. There are two district boards, one to oversee Luis Hospital and another to oversee Schneider Regional Medical Center, along with an overarching territorial hospital board.

The district boards each have nine seats. The territorial board has 15 seats, comprising six members from each district board and three members of the governor's Cabinet: the Finance Commissioner, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and a third member of the Cabinet. On the current territorial board, that third commissioner is Property and Procurement Commissioner Lynn Millin-Maduro.

DeJongh's nomination letters for Jones and de Chabert-Schuster are nominations to the Luis Hospital board, but do not mention the territorial board.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email jblackburn@dailynews.vi.

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