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Territorial Board Decides To Pick New CEOs For Hospitals In St. Thomas And St. Croix

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The territorial hospital board chairman confirmed Thursday that both Luis and Schneider hospitals will be getting new chief executive officers.

“The Territorial Hospital Board is involved in a search process for permanent CEOs for both hospitals. Dr. Luis Amaro and Dyma Williams were not chosen for the permanent positions. The next step in the process is on-island visits for the finalist candidates,” Christopher Finch, chairman of the Virgin Islands Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation board, said Thursday in response to questions from The Daily News.

Finch had praise for both Amaro and Williams, who have been heading the respective hospitals in an acting capacity. “I have only good things to say about both Ms. Williams and Dr. Amaro. I know the board joins me in this. We thank them for taking the interim leadership positions at difficult times. We are grateful for their work and leadership shepherding the hospitals in the post hurricane and COVID pandemic environments. They have both worked hard and well in very difficult jobs. Ultimately, the board decided it wants more experienced hospital administrators for the permanent positions,” Finch wrote in an email.

He said Amaro and Williams are both still in their interim positions and “we are expecting and happy that Ms. Williams will remain in a significant role within Juan F. Luis Hospital. Dr. Amaro will be staying with us for the remainder of the year to help with the transition process.”

Williams was serving as corporate compliance officer and risk manager at Luis Hospital on St. Croix when she was named acting CEO in 2018, and has been serving in that temporary capacity ever since.

Amaro said Thursday that he has submitted his resignation as interim CEO and chief medical officer at Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas, after learning that he would not be considered to fill the role permanently. He has served in the position in an interim capacity since February 2020, following the retirement of Dr. Bernard Wheatley, and has led the hospital through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m proud that I not only held the fort down, I advanced the mission of the hospital enormously with my team, and I am happy to walk out on that light and to now seek bright and new ventures for myself,” Amaro told The Daily News.

“I just will miss my time with my colleagues, but other than that I’m very excited about moving my efforts forward,” and dedicating his time to his private practice.”

Born in the Virgin Islands, Amaro, 48, earned his doctorate degree in medicine from Wright State University-School of Medicine and completed his internship and residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Miami, Jackson Memorial Medical Center/Miller School of Medicine. He has worked at Schneider Hospital since 2005, and has served in various leadership positions, including chief of medicine and president of the medical staff.

Chief of Radiology Dr. George Rosenberg is one of the most senior Schneider Hospital medical staff, and said Thursday that of all the CEOs he’s seen come and go over the decades, Amaro was one of the best.

Amaro quickly rose through leadership roles, and was willing to make tough decisions after Hurricane Irma and throughout the pandemic, Rosenberg said.

After Amaro’s interim CEO appointment, “it was always assumed that he would become permanent. I personally am astounded that they didn’t take advantage of having him available to us,” he said.

Rosenberg said he hopes separate CEOs are chosen for Schneider and Luis Hospitals, which are “very, very different” noting the idea has been toyed with in the past.

While the board has made it clear they’re still looking for another CEO, Rosenberg said Schneider would have done well under Amaro’s continued leadership.

“I thought it was wonderful that a native son was going to take over as CEO. Somebody who would not be here for three years, shine up their resume, but someone who truly loves the community,” Rosenberg said. “Nobody, myself included, nobody would, I believe, work as hard as Luis Amaro has as CEO. It’s, to me, a real loss and a real shame.”

Amaro said he stands by the choices he made during his time at the hospital, and noted that some decisions attributed to him – including staff raises that occurred in January 2020, a month before he became interim CEO — predated his tenure.

In a released statement Thursday, Amaro said he will return to private practice “after ensuring a smooth transition to new executive leadership.

“While I am excited to return to serving this community through my private practice, I must acknowledge that my tenure here has been marked by my profound respect for the team of dedicated healthcare professionals Schneider Regional Medical Center, who are unsurpassed in the Caribbean,” he wrote. “I am humbled by their faithful and tireless commitment to meet and overcome the challenges these islands face from deadly hurricanes, a merciless pandemic, and so many other tests.”

By SUZANNE CARLSON/The Virgin Islands Daily News

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