Three fatalities have been confirmed on St. Thomas as a result of Hurricane Irma, according to a news release from Government House.
Emergency responders handled requests for individual assistance Wednesday and helped hotels repair damaged infrastructure. Authorities said they hope to be able to accommodate the maximum number of displaced residents with available shelter space.
Operations continue to clear critical routes and to access isolated communities. On St. Thomas three fatalities have been confirmed thus far. A major priority continues to be the restoration of electrical power, the statement said. As feeders are restored and power lines are energized, officials are stressing the danger of handling or standing near power lines. Persons are urged to avoid handling any utility line.
The Juan F. Luis Hospital accepted three of five critical care patients evacuated from St. Thomas’s badly damaged Schneider Regional Medical Center, and the St. Croix hospital is planning to continue helping out.
“Our prayers are with the families on our sister islands who suffered so much devastation from Hurricane Irma, and we’re praying for a speedy recovery,” JFL’s acting CEO Richard Evangelista said. “We are happy that we can assist SRMC to deliver quality healthcare to those patients needing critical care at this time, and we stand ready to accept more patients as needed.”
SRMC sustained heavy damage from Wednesday’s storm and officials from JFL and SRMC have been in talks with Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp, officials from the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), FEMA and the Virgin Islands National Guard to coordinate the patients’ evacuation from the St. Thomas hospital. An ad-hoc committee was established Wednesday evening as part of the hospital’s incident command structure to assist with the transfer process.
JFL activated its Emergency Command Center at 6 a.m. Wednesday to ensure that operations at the hospital continued smoothly, and a safe environment of care was maintained for its patients. Throughout the storm, JFL was adequately staffed in all areas to ensure the continuity of care. Beginning Tuesday the staff was on 12-hour shifts were established, and more than 200 clinical and support staff stayed overnight at JFL, either working or sleeping during the emergency.
JFL’s Emergency Department remained fully operational during the storm, and stands ready to accept patients, the hospital announced. People needing emergency medical care during this time can contact 911 or the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency Emergency Operations Center on St. Croix at 340-773-2244 for help with transportation until the curfew is fully lifted.
Meanwhile the evacuation of patients from Schneider continued Wednesday. Critical patients not transferred to JFL were be evacuated to hospitals nearby in Puerto Rico. U.S Military aircraft are being used to provide transport. Hospital officials are notifying families of relocation destinations for individual patients, as communication lines become available. Doctors have established a triage center at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on the East End of St. Thomas, according to a news release from Government House.
Local and federal resources have focused on reopening air and marine ports. Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp plans an overflight of St. Thomas and St. John to assess damage from the air. He plans a news briefing for mid-afternoon, Government House said.
Radiation treatment is no longer available at the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute. Patients requiring radiation therapy are advised to arrange off-island alternatives for treatment. Dialysis patients previously were advised that no dialysis service is available at Schneider and will be advised regarding alternatives.
JFL also announced its phone system was working again Wednesday after being knocked out by Irma Tuesday.