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Human Services Pauses In-Person Senior ID Services Until June 6

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the Division of Senior Citizens Affairs, Information and Referral (I&R) Senior Identification Document (ID) Program is pausing in-person services as of Tuesday, May 24, 2022. DHS will resume in-person Senior ID services on Monday, June 06, 2022, territory-wide.

The Division of Senior Citizens Affairs, to protect health and safety of our staff and senior clients during this time of increased COVID positivity rates, will accept telephone calls to schedule appointments. Seniors are especially vulnerable to the COVID virus, and we prefer to pause services for the next two weeks as a precautionary measure.

Seniors 60 years of age and older qualify to receive a Senior ID Card from the Department of Human Services. Once seniors are given scheduled appointment dates, they will need to bring with them supporting documents to verify age such as a birth certificate, passport or other government issued l valid ID and proof of residency such as a utility bill, property tax statement, or rental lease/deed. DHS
reminds senior citizens that Senior IDs are now free. In line with Governor Bryan’s Senior Citizens Health and Wellness initiative “Live Your Best Life by Aging Your Way,” the fee for the Senior I.D. has been waived, and the I.D. will be valid for a period of five (5) years.

As a reminder these services are by appointment only and for the health and safety of all, COVID prevention and safety protocols must be adhered to. Masks are required when entering the Division of Senior Citizens Affairs and will only be allowed to be removed when taking pictures for the Senior IDs.

Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez encourages all who are eligible for a Senior ID card to make an appointment as the DHS Senior ID cards can be used to obtain valuable discounts in grocery stores, pharmacies, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Lt. Governor’s Property Tax Office, and several other locations throughout the territory.

For more information about the Senior ID Program or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Department of Human Services at the following phone numbers:
• St. Croix – (340) 772-7148 – Division of Senior Citizens Affairs, 1401 Mars Hill Frederiksted, St. Croix
• St. Thomas (340) 774-0930 ex.t 4018 – Division of Senior Citizens Affairs, 1303 Hospital Ground, STE 1 St. Thomas
• St. John (340) 776-6334 – St. John DHS Multipurpose Center, Cruz Bay, St. John
For general information, please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi or on Facebook
(https://www.facebook.com/usvidhs).
The Department of Human Services (VIDHS) exists to provide social services to members in our community with diverse needs.
In times of national uncertainty and hardship we act as a safety-net and exist to inspire hope and empower change through nonjudgmental, quality delivery of needed services and resources. Please visit the Department of Human Services website,
www.dhs.gov.vi for more information

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1,000 Households Who Failed To Recertify With SNAP In Danger Of Losing Benefits

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez informs the public that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Households who failed to recertify by March 30, 2022, will not receive any benefits on their EBT cards on April 1, 2022.

“DHS is dedicated to providing support to our Virgin Islands families; however, this requires the Head of Household to complete the federal mandatory requirements for you to receive SNAP benefits timely,” Causey-Gomez said.

The federal Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) requires Periodic Reports and recertification of SNAP Households. SNAP Head of Households received notification of their requirement to submit their Recertification Application Packages one month before the month their SNAP eligibility expires.

Over 1,000 Households whose SNAP Eligibility expires in March 2022 did NOT return their Recertification Application Packages to DHS. Additionally, hundreds of Households who returned their applications had missing required support documents and other deficiencies.

DHS has submitted a Waiver Request to FNS to extend the certification of those SNAP Households, who were NOT recertified by the deadline, for an additional thirty (30) days. If FNS approves our Waiver Request by today, March 31, 2022, we will be able to issue April SNAP benefits on the EBT Cards by April 5, 2022.

Because we realize families and individuals will be adversely affected without their SNAP benefits, we have taken the steps to submit the Waiver Request. However, these Households whose SNAP eligibility expired in March must return your complete Recertification Application Packets by or before Sunday, April 10, 2022.

Remember, the Head of Household MUST sign the application and enclose ALL REQUIRED copies of support documents in the envelope.

If you have already submitted your Recertification Application and do not receive your April SNAP benefits on April 1, 2022, you should immediately contact your Caseworker either by phone or email to inquire what additional information or corrections are needed. Failure to take these actions will delay your April SNAP issuance and you will not receive any SNAP benefits for May 2022.

People on social media questioned whether the SNAP amounts allocated to families in the territory were sufficient to keep up with the rising cost of living in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Not to mention rent, $1,000,” TiAnn C. Latham Miller said. “SNAP doesn’t help with detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, gad etc so you know how far the extra $500 goes and I guess thus isn’t considered obviously???”

Commissioner Causey-Gomez reminds all SNAP Households who received notification to submit your Recertification Application Packages in April to immediately submit them to your District’s SNAP Office.

You can return your packet or contact the SNAP office in your District by the following options:

St. Croix:
• Drop box located at DHS Mars Hill office
• Mail: DHS, Division of Family Assistance, #4102 Mars Hill, Frederiksted, VI 00840-3376
• E-Mail: certoffice.stx@dhs.vi.gov
• Fax: (340) 772-9591
1303 Hospital Ground • STE 1 • St. Thomas, VI 00802-6722 • (340) 774-0930
3012 Golden Rock • Christiansted, VI 00802 • (340) 718-2980
• Phone: (340) 772-7100 (for inquiries)

St. Thomas/Water Island:
• Drop box located at DHS Hospital Ground office
• Mail: DHS, Division of Family Assistance, #1303 Hospital Ground, Suite 1, St. Thomas VI 00802-6722
• E-Mail: certoffice.stt@dhs.vi.gov
• Fax: (340) 777-5449
• Phone: (340) 774-0930 or (340) 774-2399 (for inquiries)

St. John:
• Drop box located at DHS Multi-Purpose Building, Cruz Bay
• Mail: DHS, Division of Family Assistance, #1303 Hospital Ground, Suite 1, St. Thomas VI 00802-6722
• E-Mail: certoffice.stt@dhs.vi.gov
• Fax: (340) 777-5449
• Phone: (340) 776-6335 or (340) 776-6334 (for inquiries)
For general information, please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/usvidhs).

For more information on COVID-19, the new strain of coronavirus, please visit the USVI Department of Health’s website, www.doh.vi.gov/coronavirus or text COVID19USVI to 888777. #COVID19USVI

The Department of Human Services (VIDHS) exists to provide social services to members in our community with diverse needs. In times of national uncertainty and hardship we act as a safety-net and exist to inspire hope and empower change through non-judgmental, quality delivery of needed services and resources.

Please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi for more information.

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Human Services Says SNAP-Medicaid Eligibility Office Closing On St. Croix

FREDERIKSTED — Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez advises the public that the VI Department of Human Services (DHS) continues to serve our constituents throughout the territory. However, due to a recent COVID exposure, the SNAP/Medicaid Eligibility Office located at #4102 Mars Hill in Frederiksted, St. Croix will be closed on Monday, March 28 and Tuesday, March 29, 2022, and reopen on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

The health and safety of our employees and constituents during the pandemic is very important to us. DHS is asking the public to refrain from visiting offices in person unless necessary. To access services and to determine whether an in-person visit is necessary contact the following numbers:
• Division of Family Assistance (SNAP, ECAP, TANF, Public Assistance Programs)
o STT/STJ – (340) 774-2399 STX (340) 772-7100
o SNAP Issuance STT/STJ (340) 725-5665 or (340) 725-6244
o SNAP Issuance STX District (340) 772-7100 Ext. 7199 or 7103
• Division of Medicaid/CHIP
o Medicaid/CHIP Program – (340) 725-6198
o STT/STJ Eligibility and Enrollment
 STT/STJ (340) 774-0930 ext. 4378/4308 STT sttjmap@dhs.vi.gov
 STX (340) 772-7100 ext. 7114/7170 stxmap@dhs.vi.gov
o Special Services / Patient Care Coordination
 (340) 772-7100 ext. 7157/7170 specialservicesmap@dhs.vi.gov
o Provider Relations and Enrollment
 (340) 774-0930 ext. 4453 providerrelationsmap@dhs.vi.gov

Persons needing to drop your SNAP Re-Certification documents can also place your documents in a sealed envelope in our drop boxes. You also have the option to email your applications and supporting documents to the following email addresses:
Medicaid Program – stxmap@dhs.vi.gov
SNAP, ECAP, Cash Assistance – certoffice.stx@dhs.vi.gov

For more information, please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/usvidhs) at US Virgin Islands Department of Human Services.

he Department of Human Services (VIDHS) exists to provide social services to members in our community with diverse needs. In times of national uncertainty and hardship we act as a safety-net and exist to inspire hope and empower change through non-judgmental, quality delivery of needed services and resources.

Please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi for more information.
For more information on COVID-19, the new strain of coronavirus, please visit the USVI Department of Health’s website, www.doh.vi.gov/coronavirus or text COVID19USVI to 888777. #COVID19USVI

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Human Services Employee Distributed Medicaid Funds To Friends, Family Outside The USA

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George today announced the arrest of Department of Human Services employee Edith Brathwaite of St. Thomas.

Brathwaite was arrested by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) of the Virgin Islands Department of Justice (VIDOJ) for allegedly defrauding the Virgin Islands Medicaid program, according to Attorney General George.

The arrest arose from a joint fraud investigation by the MFCU, the V.I. Inspector General’s Office and the federal Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG). The Virgin Islands Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is 100 percent federally funded and one of 53 Medicaid Fraud Control Units created by Congress specifically to investigate fraud, waste, and abuse in the local Medicaid programs.

Human Services Employee Distributed Medicaid Funds To Friends, Family Outside The USA
Edith Brathwaite profile picture on Facebook.

At the time of the alleged crime, Brathwaite was employed as an Eligibility Specialist I with the Virgin Islands Medicaid Program, under the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) and received government employee health insurance benefits.

Brathwaite was arrested on a Superior Court warrant charging her with violations of the V.I. Medicaid Fraud statute, fraudulent claims upon the government, conversion of government property, embezzlement, or falsification of public records, obtaining money by false pretenses, and grand larceny, for allegedly falsifying her income information on a hospital document to a lower amount in order to qualify for presumptive Medicaid benefits of which she knew was not lawfully eligible.

The investigation began in February of 2020 when the MFCU received an anonymous complaint alleging that several employees of the Virgin Islands Medicaid Program were defrauding the Medicaid program by fraudulently granting Medicaid benefits to themselves, family members, persons living outside of the United States, and their friends.

The investigation revealed that some employees of the Virgin Islands Medicaid Program were under-reporting their income in order to obtain Medicaid benefits. In some instances, the employees worked on each other’s Medicaid case and failed to report income when the income, if reported, would have disqualified the employees/applicants for benefits. In other cases, employees attempted several income levels until they arrived at the levels that would qualify their co-workers for benefits.

Human Services Employee Distributed Medicaid Funds To Friends, Family Outside The USA
VIDOJ mugshot of Edith Brathwaite of Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas.

Employees enrolled undocumented persons, who are not entitled to Medicaid benefits, in the Medicaid program and continued to grant Medicaid benefits to family and friends living outside of the United States. And, in other instances, employees were issued forced eligibility in order for their co-workers whose income exceeded the Medicaid income level, to qualify for benefits. Brathwaite is one of three employees that have been arrested thus far. The investigation revealed that all employees were covered under the Government Health Insurance and were using Medicaid to pay for their co-pay.

It is alleged that on January 19, 2019, Brathwaite went to the emergency room at the Schneider Regional Medical Center in St. Thomas for medical attention. Braithwaite was subsequently admitted to the hospital for medical treatment. At some point during her stay at the hospital, Brathwaite was approached by hospital Employee #1 about filling out a Hospital Presumptive Eligibility (HPE) for medical benefits under the Virgin Islands Medicaid program. Based on their conversation, Brathwaite and the hospital Employee #1 knew then that Brathwaite would not be eligible for Medicaid benefits due to her income. So, she did not complete an HPE application.

The Virgin Islands Medicaid program allows an individual who is being seen at the emergency room at a local hospital to complete a HPE application to obtain Medicaid benefits. The applicant is not required to sign the application nor to provide any verification of income. Once the HPE application process is completed, the applicant is determined to be “presumptively eligible” for Medicaid benefits.

Consequently, the hospital may invoice the Medicaid program for services provided to the individual and the hospital will receive payments for services provided to the individual during the 60-day period. Once the HPE expires, the individual is required to submit further documentation including income to the Medicaid program to obtain Medicaid benefits.

It is alleged that Brathwaite was released from the hospital on January 22, 2019. And, on February 1, 2019, Brathwaite went to SRMC and requested to speak with hospital Employee #1. Brathwaite completed an HPE application for submittal. Brathwaite stated an income level that would have made her ineligible for Medicaid benefits.

Human Services Employee Distributed Medicaid Funds To Friends, Family Outside The USA
A screenshot of comments on Facebook this afternoon.

But hospital Employee #1 informed Brathwaite that at that income level she would not qualify for Medicaid benefits. Brathwaite crossed out the income level and entered a lower amount that was false. Based on that amount, she was qualified for benefits and the hospital was able to invoice the Virgin Islands Medicaid program for the services that Brathwaite received during her stay at SRMC.

Medicaid is a multi-billion-dollar joint state and federal program that provides health coverage for
the economically disadvantaged. It provides essential medical care to low-income Virgin Islanders
including children. Medicaid fraud impacts the most vulnerable in our community and can place
millions of dollars in federal funds to VI in jeopardy. It costs American taxpayers an incalculable
amount of money and hinders the integrity of the Medicaid program. Medicaid Fraud Control
Units have long been the vehicle used to enforce health care fraud. However, in 1995, Congress
enacted legislation that requires each state to have a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit or submit a
waiver to the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The Virgin Islands Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is 100 percent federally funded and one of 53 Medicaid
Fraud Control Units created by Congress specifically to investigate fraud, waste, and abuse in the
Medicaid programs. The Virgin Islands Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is 100 percent funded by a grant from the DHH-OIG and works cooperatively with the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services and other territorial and federal partners to prosecute fraud in the Virgin Islands Medicaid program.

“My office remains dedicated to protecting taxpayers’ dollars and pursuing potential instances of Medicaid fraud and corruption,” AG Denise George said. “Through our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, we work diligently to meet our mandate and uphold the integrity of the Virgin Islands Medicaid program and hold those accountable who would abuse the public trust.”

People on social media were harshly critical of Brathwaite and the “bad attitude” of Human Services’ employees in general.

“Always made life impossible for people who really need these benefits,” Isabel Reyez said on Facebook.

“Isabel Reyez always the case they give us U.S. citizens a hard time then we have to read about them,” Gachi Garcia replied to Isabel Reyez.

“Isabel Reyez exactly. When people go with all the documents needed they are deny,” Avlyn Romain replied to Isabel Reyez.

“Bless her those people probably needed it and even if they didn’t she was giving what she had, which is a human right,” Tay Boo said from St. Thomas.

“That’s how things are done here. It’s all about family and friends. Lovely!” Tetyana Hayes said.

“She handle my bbm case an drop it to 25 dollars case she added some paper that wasn’t belongs to add.. funny how the tables have turn. You look like you could use that 25dollars right about now ..” Franky Green said.

On social media, Ms. Brathwaite said she attended Charlotte Amalie High School (CAHS) on St. Thomas.

AG George cautions the public that in a court of law, any person charged with a crime in the Virgin
Islands is innocent until proven guilty.

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DHS Announces Release Of Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced that Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (Summer P-EBT) will be issued to eligible school children on the following dates:
P-EBT Summer 2021 for School Children Release Dates By District
• October 16,2021 St. Thomas/St. John District
• October 17,2021 St. Croix District

DHS Commissioner, Kimberley Causey-Gomez stated, “At the Department of Human Services, it is our
life’s work to serve our most vulnerable populations, especially our children,” DHS Commissioner, Kimberley Causey-Gomez said. “We take seriously our responsibility to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and ensuring there is no food insecurity. Thousands of Virgin Islanders are counting on us for direct services, which includes frontline work. While there’s no denyingthe c omplexity of managing through this crisis, I continue to be proud of our Division of Family Assistance team for their outstanding hard work and dedication to the people of our community.”

Who is eligible for Round 4 of Summer P-EBT, and how will it be issued?

School-Age Children

a. All students (Kthrough Grade 12) that were enrolled in USVI public and private
schools for the school year 2020- 2021 and participated in the National School Lunch
Program.
b. Students who attended school in the following learning mode: virtual, hybrid and in
person.
c. Students who attended school in May 2021 of School Year 2020-2021.d. For eligible children who currently receive SNAP, benefits will be loaded on the household’s existing EBT card.
e. For eligible children who do not receive SNAP but were issued a card for P-EBT 1,2, and 3 the fourth round will be automatically loaded to those cards.

For new, eligible non-SNAP children:

  1. Cards will be mailed to the addresses provided by parents and guardians.
    a. The card will be issued in the student’s name. Households with more than one eligible student will receive multiple cards.
    b. Instructions will be provided on how to set-up and utilize the card to access their benefits.
  2. There is no application process. The Virgin Islands Department of Education and eligible private schools provided DHS the names of students enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year.
  3. PEBT benefits can be used to purchase food items at the stores of authorized SNAP retailers.
  4. PEBT benefits are not transferrable! You must destroy the card if you do not want the benefits.
  5. This Summer P-EBT Issuance is ONLY for School-Age Children. Eligible Children who were under age 6 who are identified in the “Child Care” category will receive their Summer P-EBT Issuance by or before October 31, 2021.
    How much will you receive?
    A standard one-time benefit of $438.00 per child will be issued.
    What is P-EBT?
    P-EBT, an abbreviation for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, is an additional benefit that basically
    provides food assistance via an Electronic Benefit Card that can be used in participating grocery stores
    and convenience stores for food items. Unlike SNAP, which is renewable based on eligibility, P-EBT is
    a one-time benefit issuance.
    P-EBT was funded by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act which is now amended for to
    the American Rescue Act. Benefits are available for all Virgin Islands SNAP and non-SNAP households
    with children who were enrolled in locally registered public and private schools, grades (K – 12) who
    have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related public and
    private school closures and for children under 6 who receive SNAP benefits

For more information about P-EBT, visit the DHS website at www.dhs.gov.vi or families may call the
P-EBT Customer Service Number (340)772-7120 or email pebt@dhs.vi.gov with the subject P-EBT.

[wpedon id=23995]

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DHS Employee Charged With Gaming Medicaid System So Illegal Alien, Others Could Get $54,000 In Federal Funds

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A Human Services employee was charged with gaming the federal health care system so that an illegal alien and others could access at least $54,000 in Medicaid funds that they weren’t entitled to, authorities said.

Everton Garvey of the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services surrendered himself voluntarily to VIDOJ special agents and was arrested, Attorney General Denise George said.

Garvey, who determines eligibility for Medicaid programs at the Department of Human Services (DHS), was arrested on a warrant signed by the Superior Court Magistrate on St. Thomas.

The Christiansted native is charged with several counts of Medicaid fraud which he is alleged to have committed while employed at the DHS as eligibility specialist, AG George said.

DHS Employee Charged With Gaming Medicaid System So Illegal Alien, Others Could Get ,000 In Federal Funds
Everton Garvey of Christiansted, St. Croix on Facebook

Garvey is charged with conversion of government property, fraudulent claims upon the government, forgery, and embezzlement or falsification of public accounts, according to George.

According to an affidavit in support of the arrest warrant, the investigation revealed that Garvey fraudulently entered information into the Virgin Islands Benefits and Eligibility Enrollment System (VIBES), a computer program, which resulted in certain applicants becoming eligible for benefits when they would otherwise not have been eligible

The VIBES Program is used by employees of the DHS, Medicaid program to determine whether an applicant is eligible for Medicaid benefits. Employees are required to enter proof of citizenship, social security information, income, household information, and other documents required by the Medicaid program into VIBES. Garvey fraudulently underreported income for certain applicants which caused them to unlawfully obtain medical funds when he knew the applicants were not lawfully eligible for Medicaid benefits.

In one other instance, Garvey fraudulently entered an incorrect social security number which caused an undocumented recipient to unlawfully obtain Medicaid funds.

In February of 2020, The Virgin Islands Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (VIMFCU), a division of the Virgin Islands Department of Justice, received an anonymous call alleging the fraud in the administration of the Virgin Islands Medicaid Program.

VIMFCU began a preliminary investigation of the Medicaid Program in March of 2020. Upon completion of the preliminary investigation in July of 2020, there was sufficient information gathered to investigate thirteen (13)
employees of the Medicaid Program. As a result, VIMFCU discovered that roughly $54,000 in Medicaid funds was improperly appropriated by some employees of the Medicaid Program when they unlawfully enrolled each in the Medicaid program.

VIFMCU, however, was unable to recommend criminal charges be brought against some employees because VIMFCU was unable to obtain some program files although the files were subpoenaed.

“The arrest of Everton Garvey does not conclude the investigation. The investigation continues and additional arrests are expected”, AG George said.

Medicaid in the United States is a federal and state program that helps with healthcare costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid also offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare, including nursing home care and personal care services.

The investigation of the Virgin Islands Medicaid Program is being conducted by a task force, comprising the VIFMCU, The Virgin Islands Department of Justice, Special Investigation Division (SID), Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General and the United States Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), San Juan Office.

To report Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse, please call the VIMFCU hotline at (888)-404-6328.

All calls are anonymous. You may email your complaint to vimfcu@doj.vi.gov or through the Virgin Islands Department of Justice’s website under the VIMFCU folder.

VIMFCU was established in 2018 as a division within the Virgin Islands Department of Justice as a result of federal legislation authorizing the states and Territories to investigate and prosecute fraud and abuse in Medicaid.

It was first certified in VIDOJ in December 2018 and has been recertified every year since. Medicaid Fraud Control Units, such as the one in the territory, operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The Division is 100 percent funded by a grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General.

It protects the Territory and its taxpayers by investigating and prosecuting fraud committed by those health care providers and facilities that provide services paid by Medicaid.

Also, the VIMFCU protects the most vulnerable in this community by investigating and prosecuting complaints of elder and resident abuse or neglect in nursing homes, adult family homes, and assisted living.

VIMFCU also makes recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General to exclude individuals or entities from participating in federally funded programs.

VIMFCU has authority under both federal and local laws to hold medical providers or entities accountable through criminal prosecution and/or civil litigation.

Providers can include physicians (medical doctors), dentists, nursing or convalescent homes, medical equipment supply companies, taxi, and other transportation companies, or anyone else who bills the Virgin Islands Medicaid program for health care services provided to a Medicaid recipient.

AG George cautions the public that any person charged with a crime in the Virgin Islands is innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

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Human Services Closes Offices On St. Thomas And St. Croix Due To COVID-19

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS), confirmed Thursday night that it closed the Anna’s Hope Head Start Administrative Office in St. Croix and the Knud Hansen Head Start Office in St. Thomas as a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19.

The offices will be closed until Tuesday, August 3, 2021 while DHS activates COVID-19 mitigation protocols and cleans the facilities. DHS is also working with the Department of Health to ensure contact tracing and staff members have been referred to Pop-Up testing sites. ‘

The Head Start Administrative Offices in each district will re-open on Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

Human Services Closes Offices On St. Thomas And St. Croix Due To COVID-19

In the meantime, clients may contact the following numbers as staff will be working remotely:

St. Thomas/St. John:

• (340) 244-4369


St. Croix:
• (340) 772-1981
• (340) 773-1972

All other DHS offices will continue their normal operations. In an abundance of caution, employees that are identified as PUIs by the DOH must produce a COVID-19 negative test before returning to work.

Current Actions Being Taken
• A notification was sent to all staff advising of the COVID-19 positive results.
• DHS has referred staff to Pop-Up testing sites.
• The facility has been and will continue to be cleaned and sanitized according to protocol.
• DHS COVID-19 mitigation protocols continue to be emphasized with staff and include, masking of all staff, temperatures being taken before staff can enter the facility, self-attestation regarding potential exposure etc.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread between people who are in close contact with one another (about 6 feet). The virus is spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.

Please be reminded to maintain CDC best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
• Wear your mask (covering your nose and mouth while in the workplace).
• Maintain social distance.
• Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds, often.
• Wear appropriate other PPE while in contact with other staff or clients.
• Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol when you cannot your wash hands.
• Routinely clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces.
• Share FACTS, not rumors.

For general information, please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/usvidhs) at US Virgin Islands Department of Human Services.

If you are experiencing any of the coronavirus symptoms listed on the Department of Health website (listed below), self-quarantine and immediately contact the Department of Health:
• V.I. DOH website: https://doh.vi.gov/
• COVID-19 Hotline: (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519

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DHS To Close Food Stamp Office For 2 Days After Staffer Tests Positive For COVID-19

FREDERIKSTED —- The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS), confirmed that it is closing the Mars Hill SNAP and Medicaid Offices in St. Croix as a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19.

The building will be closed on both Monday, July 19 and Tuesday, July 20, 2021, while DHS activates COVID-19 mitigation protocols and cleans the facility.

DHS is also working with the Department of Health to ensure contact tracing and staff members have been referred to Pop-Up testing sites. The St. Croix SNAP and Medicaid offices will re-open on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

It is at least the second time since March that DHS has been forced to close its offices in Frederiksted due to coronavirus exposure.

In the meantime, clients may contact the following numbers and e-mail addresses as staff will be
working remotely:

St. Croix SNAP office:

• (340) 725 – 5697
• (340) 774 -2399
• 340) 725-5738
• Certofficestx@dhs.vi.gov
St. Croix Medicaid office:
• (340) 725-6198
• (340) 725-5671
• stxmap@dhs.vi.gov
• specialservicesmap@dhs.vi.gov
• providerrelationsmap@dhs.vi.gov

All other DHS offices will continue their normal operations. In an abundance of caution, employees that are identified as Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) by the DOH must produce a COVID-19 negative test before returning to work.

Current Actions Being Taken

• A notification was sent to all staff advising of the COVID-19 positive results.

DHS has referred staff to Pop-Up testing sites.

• The facility has been and will continue to be cleaned and sanitized according to protocol.
• DHS COVID-19 mitigation protocols continue to be emphasized with staff and include, masking of all staff, temperatures being taken before staff can enter the facility, self-attestation regarding potential exposure etc.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread between people who are in close contact with one another (about 6 feet). The virus is spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.

Please be reminded to maintain CDC best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

• Wear your mask (covering your nose and mouth while in the workplace).
• Maintain social distance.
• Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds, often.
• Wear appropriate other PPE while in contact with other staff or clients.
• Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol when you cannot your wash hands.
• Routinely clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces.
• Share FACTS, not rumors.

For general information, please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/usvidhs) at US Virgin Islands Department of Human Services.

If you are experiencing any of the coronavirus symptoms listed on the Department of Health website (listed below), self-quarantine and immediately contact the Department of Health:

• V.I. DOH website: https://doh.vi.gov/
• COVID-19 Hotline: (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519

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SNAP Benefits Ended June 30 For 499 USVI Households Over Recertification Issue

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Department of Human Services’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, today announced that  499 households were not re-certified for SNAP benefits and were therefore not issued SNAP benefits on July 1, 2021. 

The Department is working diligently with its federal partners to launch the second issuance of the regular July 2021 SNAP benefits to the 499 households by Friday, July 2, 2021. It is important, however, for the head of households to immediately respond to the Human Services notification to complete the required documents for re-certification as soon as it is received.  

For households that did not receive their July SNAP issuance, please be notified that failure to complete the SNAP re-certification by or before July 31, 2021, will result in auto-closure and those households will not receive regular SNAP benefits on the August 1, 2021 Issuance Date.  

If you are currently an active SNAP recipient, and you did not receive your July 2021 benefits, please contact the SNAP Office at (340) 772-7100 St. Croix District and (340) 774-2399 in the St. Thomas/St. John District.

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DHS Launches MedicaidNow Messaging System for Medicaid Clients and Providers

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) Medical Assistance Program (MAP) today announced the launch of a critical messaging program for all Medicaid clients and providers called the “MedicaidNow” Text Messaging system.

The MedicaidNow instant messaging system provides real-time alerts and messages and seeks to improve the overall delivery of Medicaid services by reminding clients and providers of status and event changes such as: changes to benefits, re-certification deadlines, benefit or agreement expiration, document reviews/submittal, and more. The MedicaidNow announcements will be delivered in a timely, secure, and confidential manner as long as client and providers opt-in (sign up) for the service.

“As MAP seeks to modernize and facilitate communication efforts between the Department, Medicaid clients and Medicaid providers, this texting / messaging service was selected as a way to facilitate faster, more responsive communication,” said Medicaid Director Gary Smith. DHS Commissioner Kimberley Causey Gomez expressed her enthusiasm for the project and stated,“It is a well-known fact that text messaging is much faster and more effective for time sensitive, short communications vs. traditional postal mail or even email service. Our goal is to harness technology for the good of all of our members and providers.”

For any Medicaid members to opt-in or opt-out of the messaging system, Medicaid clients and providers may visit the following link: http://mainhsmedicaid.mkiosk.info/?1600, from their smartphone or computer, or by entering their information at dedicated kiosks, or by visiting the following DHS Medicaid office locations: see attached release for additional information