In the us virgin islands, health care is still in critical condition.
Health care in the U.S. virgin islands is in critical condition, five months after hurricane ima and hurricane maria hit the area.
The only hospital in st. Thomas’s schneider district medical center serves about 55,000 residents between st. Thomas and st. John. Schneider’s facilities have suffered serious structural damage, forcing a reduction in the scope of their services, mass transfer of patients, and serious employee turnover and loss of income. Only about a third of beds are currently available for patient care.
When ilma attacked the virgin islands in early September, most of schneider’s staff were on duty. At the height of the storm, a large window on the top floor of the hospital emanated. Darryl Smalls, vice President of the hospital, said: “you wind up at 175 miles an hour and 180 miles per hour.”
Failure to hold the window in place. The Windows made of the storm glass itself remain intact. Right here, leaning against a nursing station in a state of confusion. The ceiling was missing and exposed pipes and pipes were damaged and sagging. A huge plywood barrier covered the opening of the window.
Smalls said that when the Windows were ripped out, staff quickly evacuated about 20 patients to safer places in the hospital. They were unable to use elevators in the storm, so workers used emergency staircases to ferry patients from the fourth floor to the third floor. Smalls said: “we put the patient on the mattress and slid them down the stairs to the third floor and across the building to the other side.” “We have an operating unit that is not compromised and can handle patient care.”
Eventually, all the patients during the storm were evacuated from the island. But the hospital remains open even as employees deal with a range of issues. Smalls, said: “in the roof leaking serious emergency room, you may be on the floor is about 3 to 4 inches of water, I have a water pump, I think we might have 50 people here just trying to vent water as much as possible from the facility. ”
Today, the hospital continues to provide operations, labor and delivery care, radiology and laboratory services. But its cancer center, a $28 million facility, is still closed because of severe storm damage. Hospitals can now only offer limited services to patients who need dialysis.
At the same time, the sister center of schneider medical is the only hospital in st. croix, the other main island of the United States virgin islands, which has suffered more damage.
In the absence of adequate medical services, Bernard whitley, chief executive of schneider, said most of the evacuees were unable to return. “More than 400 have already been transferred to the island,” whitley said. “Up to this day, we’re still moving some patients, especially those who need a long-term stay.”
In addition to inadequate facilities, another major issue is staffing. Whitley said he lost 150 of the hospital’s 600 employees – many of whom left the island after the storm devastated their homes. “Sadly, we lost a lot of nurses,” he said. “If you ask me now, my key entity is in short supply, and from a clinical point of view, it’s going to be paramedics.”
“We have one or two times a day,” says Shanique Woods-Boschulte of the schneider foundation. Five months later, the day-to-day struggles are wearing out many workers, says Woods-Boschulte. “Morale was very high after the storm because we saw what we could do – no patients were injured,” she said. “But now things are getting worse and everyone is leaving a broken hospital and going home.”
In addition to these disasters, hospitals are in desperate financial straits. Income is half of them, because the number of patients is much lower. Government-sponsored hospitals are expecting a loss of $7 million.
Given all the competition on the island, chief executive Bernard whitley says it is not clear how much help local governments can offer. “The territory itself is expected to lose $400 million,” he said. “They don’t have a hotel room, a bad tourism industry, just a different island.”
The U.S. virgin islands is now seeking congress to help decide how to deal with abused hospitals. The local government is in talks with FEMA and the army corps of engineers to determine whether the hospital can recover or whether new facilities are needed.