Health care remains critical on virgin island.
Health care in the U.S. virgin islands is in critical condition five months after hurricane ima and hurricane maria hit the region.
St. Louis’s only hospital, Thomas schneider regional medical center, serves 55,000 residents of st. John’s hospital. Thomas and saint. John. Schneider’s facilities suffered severe structural damage, forcing it to scale back its services, massive patient transfers, severe staff turnover and lost revenue. Only about a third of beds are currently available for patient care.
Most of schneider’s staff were on duty when ilma attacked the virgin islands in early September. At the height of the storm, a large window on the top floor of the hospital blew out. “You end up at 175 miles per hour and 180 miles per hour,” said Darryl Smalls, deputy director of the hospital.
Failed to secure the window in place. Windows made of storm glass themselves remain intact. Right here, in a state of chaos, leaning against the nursing station. Ceiling missing, pipe and pipe exposed damaged and sagging. A huge plywood barrier covered the opening of the window.
Smalls said that when Windows was ripped off, staff quickly evacuated about 20 patients to safer areas of the hospital. They couldn’t use elevators during the storm, so workers used emergency stairs to ferry patients from the fourth to the third floor. “We put patients on mattresses,” Smalls said. “we slid them down the stairs to the third floor and across the building to the other side.” “We have a non-compromised operating unit that can handle patient care.”
Eventually, all the victims were evacuated from the island during the storm. But even as employees deal with a range of problems, hospitals remain open. “In an emergency room where the roof is leaking badly, you might have about 3 to 4 inches of water on the floor,” said the man. “I have a water pump, and I think we might have 50 people here who are just trying to drain as much water as possible from the facility. ”
Today, hospitals continue to provide surgery, childbirth and childbirth care, radiology and laboratory services. But its cancer center, a $28 million facility, remains closed due to severe storm damage. Hospitals now offer limited services to patients in need of dialysis.
Meanwhile, schneider’s sister center is the only hospital in st. Louis. Croix, another major island in the U.S. virgin islands, suffered more damage.
Bernard wheatley, schneider’s chief executive, said most evacuees could not return without adequate medical care. “More than 400 people have been moved to the island,” whitley said. “To this day, we are still providing services to some patients, especially those who need long-term hospitalization.”
At the schneider regional medical center, Thomas’s only hospital in st. Louis, the Windows on the top floor of the hospital were blown up, the wind blew through the ceiling and damaged pipes and pipes.
In addition to inadequate facilities, another major problem is staffing. Whitley said he lost 150 of the hospital’s 600 staff, many of whom left the island after a storm hit their homes. “Sadly, we lost a lot of nurses,” he said. “If you ask me now, my key entity is in short supply, from a clinical standpoint, it’s going to be a healthcare worker.”
“We do it once or twice a day,” says Shanique woods-boschulte of the schneider foundation. Five months later, says woods-boschulte, the daily battles are exhausting many workers. “Morale was very high after the storm because we saw what we could do – no patients were hurt,” she said. “But it’s getting worse and worse and everyone has to leave the hospital and go home.”
In addition to these disasters, hospitals are in desperate financial shape. Income is half of that, because the number of patients is much lower. Government-funded hospitals are expected to lose $7 million.
Given all the competition on the island, chief executive Bernard wheatley said it was not clear how much help local governments could provide. “The region itself is expected to lose $400 million,” he said. “They don’t have hotel rooms, tourism is bad, it’s just a different island.”
The U.S. virgin islands is seeking congressional help in deciding how to respond to abusive hospitals. The local government is in talks with FEMA and army engineers to determine whether the hospital can be restored or whether new facilities are needed.