A fight among groups of students at St. Croix Central High School led to the campus being locked down Thursday, and gave an unexpected test of the Juan F. Luis Hospital’s ability to function under its new patient care model.
Several fights broke out at about 11 a.m., according to St. Croix Superintendent Gary Molloy. The campus was immediately locked down – students were sent to classrooms and locked in while the situation was assessed.
Department of Education spokeswoman Ananta Pancham said the lockdown lasted a couple of hours.
Police were summoned to help restore order, Pancham said. The school was able to identify the students and has scheduled hearings with their parents to determine if disciplinary action needs to be taken.
No one was arrested and no one was injured.
Additional information, including what caused the fights, was not provided.
While there were no injuries from the fight, the extent of any possible harm was not immediately known and the hospital was told there might be as many as four injured students being sent to the emergency room.
An ambulance transported one student who had an asthma attack, but Molloy said he did not know whether the asthma attack was related to the fights.
At the hospital the report of the fight and possible incoming patients came on top of reports that a traffic accident might have resulted in seven victims to be transported.
Faced with a fiscal crisis, the hospital’s board on Tuesday terminated the positions of 85 licensed practicing nurses and certified nursing assistants, shifting work schedules and duties so that registered nurses will provide patient care.
The "RN dominant" model is part of the hospital’s effort to become identified as a "magnet hospital" and grow its way out of its fiscal woes.
But the sudden termination of the LPNs and CNAs led to an outcry from some, including several senators, that patient care would be compromised.
Based on Thursday’s results that is not the case, according to Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital spokeswoman Xaulanda H. Simmonds-Emmanuel.
News of the possible arrival of 11 patients in the emergency room prompted the hospital to declare a "code yellow," which indicates the hospital’s capacity to treat a surge of patients that may exceed normal levels. By 12:30 p.m., patients were appearing at the ER.
To deal with the expected influx, the hospital shifted nursing personal so that the most critical needs continued to be staffed by nurses at a higher level, while other nurses switched to the ER, according to Simmonds-Emmanuel.
She said the hospital’s interdisciplinary team, consisting of surgeons as well as the hospital’s Support & Ancillary Services, was available to support the RNs and physicians in the ER. The ratio of one nurse to four patients was maintained to address the emergencies as well as patients that were already being cared for in the ER, Simmonds-Emmanuel said.
As it turned out, only seven additional patients were taken to the hospital, six from the accident and the high school’s asthma victim.
Meanwhile, the response drew praise from the hospital’s medical staff.
“The JFL team had an excellent and timely response to the Code Yellow today," said Dr. Daniel Pust, director of Trauma Surgery and Critical Care services. "All physicians including surgeons, nurses and team members were fully staffed and present to provide quality patient care prior to patient arrival to the
The seven patients were triaged, immediately treated and were stabilized. An “all clear” for the Code Yellow was announced at 1:11 p.m. and the hospital resumed to normal operations.