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UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

_________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 21, 2010

Major Funding for Territorial Health Care and Human Services Projects Announced

In the first meeting with Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. since his recent appointment to the position of Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region II, Dr. Jaime Torres announced the awarding of over one million dollars in grant money for the development of a new Head Start Center in Frederiksted, St. Croix and approval of a grant for more than $230,000 for the Department of Health to plan the expansion of health information technology in the territory. 

Dr. Torres, whose Region II oversees New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, is in the territory to take part in the Third Annual Medicare Symposium on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. and Lt. Governor Gregory R. Francis meet with  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region II Director, Dr. Jaime Torres, September 21, 2010.

On Tuesday, Dr. Torres met with Governor de Jongh and announced the grant awards to the two V.I. government agencies and participated in a meeting with officials of local government agencies which provide services funded by HHS. He and members of his high-level delegation also participated in a meeting of the governor’s Healthcare Reform Implementation Task Force. “Dr. Torres gained first-hand information during meetings in the territory Tuesday in which he interacted with officials of the territorial hospitals, the local Medicare office, community health centers, the departments of Human Services and Health as well as community volunteers and senior citizens,” the governor said. 

De Jongh said he was heartened at the announcement today that the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services would receive $1.3 million dollars in federal grant money for the development of a new Head Start center in Frederiksted, St. Croix. “These federal dollars from a one-time funding source will go a long way towards beginning the development of a modern Head Start center for our young people on the west end of St. Croix. Most of the Frederiksted head start centers are small and isolated and others are in facilities that need a vast amount of work. With this funding, we should begin development of at least a five to six classroom building with an eye to further expansion as additional funds become available,” the governor said Tuesday. 

The grant in the amount of $257,540 of which $231,786 is a federal share, will assist the Health Department in establishing the plan it must file with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to spend incentive monies in the provider community for the development and design of health information technology in accordance with provisions of The Recovery Act. 

The governor said the visit by Dr. Torres is consistent with the commitment made by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during meetings in Washington, D.C. in which she officered assurances that all efforts would be made to ensure that programs and funding would be available to the Virgin Islands and the other U.S. territories. “Our residents deserve access to the same programs and services available to all other U.S. citizens and this week’s visit by Dr. Torres and his team is indicative of the Obama Administration’s commitment towards that goal,” he said. 

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