Oct. 2, 2003 – On Thursday, two days after announcing that Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center would no longer issue food-handler cards, clinic administrator Erica McDonald reversed that statement.
McDonald said a problem arose because the Health Department had begun using a computerized system to issue the cards. She said the health center had to suspend the service because it had no way to deal with the computerized cards.
The St. John facility now has a supply of the cards, she said, and authorities will decide in the next month whether to link the center with the Health Department's system or have the Health Department issue the cards at the Morris de Castro Clinic in Cruz Bay.
In any event, "We're able to resolve it temporarily," McDonald said.
Anyone who works in the food service industry needs a food-handler card. Myrah Keating Smith falls administratively under Roy L. Schneider Hospital but issues the cards on behalf of the separate Health Department.
Lonnie Willis, who owns two St. John restaurants, said she spent half a day on the telephone trying to persuade officials to arrange for the cards once again to be issued on St. John.
"We are citizens over here," she said, speaking about the lack of understanding often shown by St. Thomas officials regarding the transportation and time demands placed on St. John residents when they have to go to St. Thomas for services.
Willis said her staff members would lose half a day of work plus the cost of the trip if they had to get their cards on St. Thomas. She credited St. John Administrator Julien Harley with convincing Health Department officials to resume the service on St. John.
Especially annoying to Willis was a lack of advance notice given for the change. She said her workers went to the health center to take the food-handler's test on Tuesday and were told they had to go to St. Thomas. She said she saw a press release on the subject on Wednesday.
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