Schneider Regional Medical Center extended a helping hand by agreeing to accept 12 critically ill, elderly patients, who tested positive for COVID-19 and need advanced levels of care, according to a release from the hospital.
That is two more residents testing positive than when the Queen Louise Home reported an outbreak on Aug. 12. At the time, the facility reported that of the 17 residents tested, 10 returned positive results. Of 25 Queen Louise staff who were tested, six tested positive at the time.
So far, there have been no reports of residents of other senior residential facilities testing positive.
The elderly are considered to be particularly vulnerable to the virus, and the close quarters of residential facilities have led to serious outbreaks in such facilities in many locations both in the U.S. and abroad.
Hospital officials say the offer for help came during an emergency meeting held over the weekend with officials from the V.I. Department of Health, Department of Human Services, hospital staff and officials from Government House.
Dr. Luis Amaro, Schneider’s acting chief executive officer, said they “saw it as our duty to bring those patients to our facility where we are more equipped and have the experience to care for them.”
The growing number of coronavirus cases threatens the hospital’s capacity and resources, hospital officials said in the release. There are also serious concerns for the safety of patients and staff.
Amaro said Schneider has been preparing for a surge of COVID-19 patients for months by conducting training, ramping up supplies and expanding available beds and treatment capabilities.
“I am grateful and incredibly proud of our team of skillful and compassionate staff here at SRMC who are prepared to care for those patients,” Amaro said.
Schneider Chief Medical Officer Dr. Cecilia Penn said, “Older people are at higher risk for COVID-19, so are people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and respiratory illness. Both groups are heavily represented among our nursing home populations in the territory. The immediate focus for us will be to successfully treat these patients while keeping the hospital environment free of the coronavirus so that we can also continue caring for other patients whose conditions are unrelated to the pandemic.
“The recent spike in community spread is a reminder that we are not yet out of the woods. Protect yourselves and others from the spread of the virus” by following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and the V.I. Department of Health, Amaro said. “Wear your mask, wash your hands often and practice safe social distancing.”
Editor’s note: The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs has provided the following cellphone numbers where residents can report activity that is against the law, including violations of the governor’s executive orders, that may put others at risk or in danger. Information, photos or videos can be texted to the following: The general number is 340-725-5129. The other two numbers are 340-727-7226 on St. Croix and 340-771-7226 on St. Thomas. You can also call 911 to report serious crimes.