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Health / News / Virgin Islands / February 2, 2018

ST. CROIX — Dept. of Health Commissioner Michelle Davis said on Wednesday that while the Mapp administration was in the process of procuring temporary hospital units that will provide critical medical needs to the territory, the more permanent modular units, which the territory is expected to utilize for multiple years, won’t be ready for use until June or July of this year.

The information was divulged by Ms. Davis at Government House during Governor Kenneth Mapp’s first hurricane-related press briefing since December. There, the governor said 34 residents in need of medical care were airlifted to other U.S. jurisdictions in January. “If we get the modular units in and the hospitals up and functioning, then we will not have to do that and spend that level of dollars,” Mr. Mapp said, referring to the expenses related to airlifting patients to the U.S. mainland for care.

Ms. Davis spoke of a three-phased plan that D.O.H. has in place to restore the territory’s healthcare operations. The first phase involves installing mobile medical units offering critical services such as emergency and dialysis care. “Those mobile units would be a mobile emergency room, a mobile operating room, or a mobile dialysis trailer as well,” she said. The hospitals have been negotiating with states with the necessary equipment, and representatives of some of these states have already visited the territory to determine whether the equipment they have meet the local need.

“It’s a complex task that we’re working to address at this time. There are many different variables that we’ve had to deal with,” Ms. Davis said. As for a timeline, she said, “We’re hoping within the next month we will have portable operating rooms, possibly portable emergency rooms, and portable dialysis units.”

Phase two of D.O.H.’s plan involves installing the modular units at the hospitals, which are expected to be in place for multiple years. These units will have a labor and delivery operation, an emergency room, an operating room, a lab, and a pharmacy, according to Ms. Davis. “So they’ll have everything that you’re used to going to [at] the current structures,” she said. The Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center in St. John is expected to receive its modular units within three months, Ms. Davis said, because the facility’s needs are much less complex than that of the two major hospitals. The modular units will be located at the hospitals’ parking lots, according to Ms. Davis.

Modular units for D.O.H.’s Charles Harwood facility in Christiansted and the department’s facility in St. Thomas, will receive their modular units within 3-4 months, Ms. Davis said. For Charles Harwood, the modular units will be installed immediately behind the complex, while the St. Thomas D.O.H. modular units will be installed on the grounds of the Schneider Regional Medical Center.

There are now hundreds of Virgin Islanders in health facilities outside of the territory after Hurricanes Irma and Maria badly damaged the local hospitals. D.O.H. had been criticized for what medical evacuees said was the department’s neglect of patients spread about the U.S. and Puerto Rico, with little to no communication between the evacuees and the department. After reports on the matter, Ms. Davis said D.O.H would improve communication with the evacuees, giving details relative to their length of stay at the off-island facilities, along with other important information. She recently visited evacuees in Puerto Rico and the U.S.

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Ernice Gilbert
I wear many hats, I suppose, but the one which fits me best would be journalism, second to that would be radio personality, thirdly singer/songwriter and down the line. I've been the Editor-In-Chief at my videogames website, Gamesthirst, for over 5 years, writing over 7,000 articles and more than 2 million words. I'm also very passionate about where I live, the United States Virgin Islands, and I'm intent on making it a better place by being resourceful and keeping our leaders honest. VI Consortium was birthed out of said desire, hopefully my efforts bear fruit. Reach me at [email protected]

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