The Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute was forced to close in 2017 after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. By THE V.I. OFFICE OF DISASTER RECOVERY.
The Office of Disaster Recovery on Tuesday announced that after extensive negotiations, FEMA has awarded the territory $50 million to reconstruct the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute, signaling a clear path forward to reestablishing cancer treatment in the the USVI.
According to O.D.R., in June 2021 FEMA approved the full replacement of the facility. Almost one year later, this obligation gives the Schneider Regional Medical Center access to the funding to begin demolition and reconstruction.
“The replacement of the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute on St. Thomas will revitalize critical medical services, providing life-saving and life-sustaining treatment for cancer patients across the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said USVI Recovery Director Kristen A. Hodge. “The inclusion of hazard mitigation measures in this project will protect the Kimelman Cancer Institute from the loss of service due to power failures during future weather events.”
The facility was forced to close in 2017 after Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused irreparable damage to critical equipment and systems, leaving a gap in medical care that, to date, has not been filled. Before the storms, the medical center administered cancer treatment to the Territory’s residents and visitors from other Eastern Caribbean islands, O.D.R. said.
The Hospital Redevelopment Team is currently soliciting bids, until July 18, for the selective demolition of the facility, according to the release.
“We have begun the program redevelopment of the Cancer Center through a series of meetings which has included the Territorial Board, senior leadership and key stakeholders within the Schneider Regional Medical Center,” said Darryl A. Smalls, executive director of the Territorial Hospital Redevelopment Team. “Design work began in the summer of 2021, and we will continue collaborating with EYP Architects to finalize plans for the new facility by September 2022.”
The solicitation for reconstruction is expected to be issued by October 2022 and will run concurrently with demolition activities, according to the release.
“Rebuilding a resilient, state-of-the-art cancer facility has been one of Governor Bryan’s top priorities,” said O.D.R. Director Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien. “This significant milestone could not have been achieved without the support of our local and federal partners. This project kicks off the reconstruction of healthcare facilities across the territory.”