Connect with us

Health

USVI Launches Advanced System for Improved Patient Evacuation Management

Published

on

In a significant move to boost emergency response readiness, the V.I. Department of Health recently held a press event in partnership with disaster management professionals to unveil the newly developed Joint Patient Assessment and Tracking System (JPATS). This state-of-the-art system is primed to streamline and monitor patient evacuations under exigent circumstances.

VITEMA Director Daryl Jacschen reminisced about the shifts in disaster response after the devastating impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. The dual Category Five storms delivered a hard-learned lesson to the territory. Jacschen explained that in the aftermath, the territory adopted strategic measures, culminating in Act 8151. This legislative move provided a framework for the evacuation and extended medical care of patients beyond the island’s shores. Elaborating on the broad-based collaboration that led to this, Jacschen mentioned, “It’s no longer just a legislative code; it’s an active plan now.” He recognized JPATS’s introduction, an initiative backed by U.S. Health and Human Services, as a pillar of that plan.

Jeannette Guzman, leading the patient evacuation initiative, shed light on the essence of patient tracking. Recounting her personal revelation after the 2017 hurricanes, Guzman confessed, “Only post-Irma and Maria did I genuinely fathom the intricacies of kidney disease and the challenge of sustaining life with scant treatment avenues.” She detailed the innovative barcode bracelet system intrinsic to JPATS, emphasizing, “Such an advancement amplifies our disaster-response aptitude, ensuring our community stays informed about the whereabouts of their kin in the aftermath of unforeseen calamities.” A comprehensive training program for this new setup is slated to kick off, with various health and emergency response stakeholders participating.

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion pointed out the regularity of patient transfers between healthcare facilities in the territory. “This practice of patient transfers is an integral aspect of our daily healthcare operations,” she remarked. However, the advent of JPATS, she accentuated, holds a profound significance, especially for high-risk individuals during emergencies—dialysis patients, elderly citizens, critically ill infants, and expectant mothers to name a few. Encarnacion stressed the three pillars that drive successful evacuations – effective communication, meticulous care, and utmost safety.

In essence, the integration of JPATS marks a transformative chapter for the Virgin Islands in the domain of disaster response. The emphasis is not only on utilizing advanced technology but also on the broader themes of foresight, cohesive efforts, and leveraging innovation to protect and serve the community. The enthusiasm and commitment resonated in the voices of the officials present at the JPATS announcement, reflecting their unwavering dedication to preserving the health and safety of the islands’ inhabitants.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Health

Governor Bryan Pushes for Urgent Legislation to Address Medicaid Fund Shortfall

Published

on

Governor Albert Bryan announced on Monday that the territory has exhausted its funds for the local Medicaid match, prompting Government House to submit draft legislation to the Senate seeking an additional $3 million for this purpose.

Despite the fiscal shortfall, Governor Bryan views the situation as a sign of increased healthcare access. “We’re having so many people access care,” he stated, highlighting that during the pandemic, nearly 40,000 individuals utilized Medicaid for services including braces, dental care, and various medical appointments. Furthermore, eased referral requirements have facilitated access to specialty care. “Before, you had to go to East End or Frederiksted Health Center for a referral; now, a regular doctor can refer you,” Bryan explained.

These expanded services and simplified processes have rapidly depleted the Medicaid matching funds. However, Governor Bryan does not foresee this as a recurring issue, predicting stabilization next year. He noted that the V.I. Department of Human Services has already reduced some services, which has led to a decrease in Medicaid enrollment.

The proposed $3 million allocation remains critical for Virgin Islanders. Governor Bryan emphasized its importance, pointing to the recent U.S. Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) Program health fair, where medics served over 2,500 people seeking no-cost healthcare services. Although 6,000 people applied, many were turned away due to limited resources. The governor stressed that healthcare costs for uninsured residents ultimately fall on the territory, whether through Medicaid or hospital services.

The effort to secure adequate Medicaid funding is ongoing. In 2019, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett successfully obtained an additional $252 million for the territory in a fiscal year 2020 spending bill, raising the federal match from 55% to 83%. This increased match rate, initially set to expire in 2021, has been made permanent, ensuring the territory receives the highest possible Medicaid match in the U.S.

Continue Reading

Health

Measles Outbreaks Prompt Vaccination Drive in U.S. Virgin Islands

Published

on

As measles outbreaks rise across the United States and the Caribbean, U.S. Virgin Islands Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion is urging parents to prioritize their children’s vaccination schedules.

Commissioner Encarnacion voiced her concerns this week about the alarmingly low vaccination rates among children in the territory, emphasizing the imminent threat of measles. “We are very concerned about the low childhood vaccine rate in the Territory, especially with measles threatening the US,” she said. Currently, only 60 percent of USVI children are vaccinated, a situation worsened by an increasing number of parents seeking vaccination exemptions.

The urgency is underscored by the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control, which reports weekly on measles outbreaks. As of June 6, 2024, there have been 151 measles cases across 22 jurisdictions, including Arizona, California, Florida, and New York, with over half resulting in hospitalizations.

The infectiousness of measles is a significant concern for the V.I. Department of Health. “While 151 may seem like a low number, it is alarming because one person can infect nine to ten others,” Encarnacion explained. She also highlighted the risk of the disease spreading to the USVI and neighboring regions, noting that the Turks and Caicos Islands reported their first measles cases since 1991 this past May.

In response, the Department of Health launched the “Be Wise, Immunize” campaign earlier this year. This initiative aims to educate parents about the vital importance of vaccinations, stressing that immunization is the best defense against diseases like measles both in childhood and later in life.

The primary defense against measles is the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which provides long-lasting protection against all strains of the virus. Measles can lead to severe health complications, particularly in children under five, including pneumonia and encephalitis.

Measles is highly contagious, spreading through the air via coughs or sneezes from infected individuals. It remains active in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours. Symptoms typically appear seven to 14 days after exposure and include high fever, cough, runny nose, red watery eyes, and a characteristic rash.

Although declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, measles continues to persist globally and is often brought into the U.S. by unvaccinated travelers.

The VI Department of Health is urging parents to ensure their children are vaccinated and provides resources for scheduling immunization appointments at www.doh.vi.gov/immunization.

Continue Reading

Health

Douglas Koch to Lead Kearney Regional Medical Center in Nebraska

Published

on

Just a day after announcing his resignation from the Juan F. Luis Hospital (JFL) on St. Croix, CEO Douglas Koch has been named the new CEO of Kearney Regional Medical Center in Nebraska. He will assume his new role on August 5, according to a report from KSNB Local 4.

In his resignation letter, Mr. Koch cited a desire to return to the Midwest to be closer to his family. His departure has been a significant loss for local health officials, with JFL Board Chair Chris Finch expressing disappointment. Mr. Finch, who also chairs the Territorial Hospital Board of Directors, highlighted Mr. Koch’s exemplary service, noting that he had recently received an excellent personnel evaluation from board members.

Koch’s new role in Nebraska is eagerly anticipated by his future colleagues. John Woodrich, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Bryan Health, which owns Kearney Regional, praised Koch’s midwestern roots, education, and extensive operational experience as ideal for the position. “Doug’s commitment to community health and his leadership skills will be a tremendous asset to Kearney Regional Medical Center,” said Woodrich.

Before his tenure in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Koch held leadership positions in South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. At Kearney Regional, he will oversee the expansion of inpatient facilities and the construction of a cancer center, similar to his work with JFL’s transition to a temporary modular structure. Woodrich emphasized Koch’s ability to help communities thrive, stating, “He will be an outstanding leader for Kearney Regional Medical Center.”

As Mr. Koch prepares to embark on his new journey, JFL officials now face the task of finding a new CEO to lead the hospital forward.

Continue Reading

Trending