Florida Hospital Team Serves St. Thomas Community after Hurricanes

21 Oct 2017 | NCC Staff


Over the course of seven days in October, 2017, a visiting ten-member medical team from Florida Hospital, located in Orlando, provided free medical services on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (V. I.). Reports indicate that 178 individuals were served in the first day and a half.
 
According to Dr. Simmonds, Jr., Medical Director of Outpatient Surgery in the Center for Specialized Surgery at Florida Hospital, "Our purpose in coming to St. Thomas is to lend assistance to the community by providing care to those at shelters and relief to the emergency room physicians of the badly damaged Roy Lester Schneider Medical Center. The need is great. No one was prepared for what we were about to see but we are prepared to serve and that we are doing.” The assault of Hurricane Irma left extensive damage to the healthcare infrastructure on St. Thomas and disruptions to treatments for those who are most vulnerable in the society.
 
The medical team of six physicians, two physician assistants, a registered nurse and a healthcare administrator brought $20,000.00 worth of prescription drugs, donated by Florida Hospital and others. Dr. Simmonds, Jr., explained, “Generous support from the Florida community contributed to the relief efforts. It enables them to touch lives and extend the healing ministry of Jesus to all who needs it.” The team dispensed prescription refills to residents, some of whom had no primary care physician. Using tents provided by the United States (U.S.) Army and a mobile unit from the V. I. Department of Health, the team also accommodated the elderly and disabled.
 
Dr. Simmonds, Jr., a native of St. Thomas, is assisted Dr. Benita David, Chair of the Healthcare Administration Program at the Adventist University of Health Sciences, an entity of Florida Hospital. Dr. David shared that she did not know what to expect coming on this mission trip, especially since it was her first visit to the island. She indicated that at the airport the extent of the devastation was not immediately obvious; however, on their orientation tour she found it particularly impacting to see “people staying in homes without walls.” She was impressed with “how heroic the people have been.”
 
Responding to the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, compounded by Hurricane Maria 12 days later, the Florida Hospital team came with the goal of “extending the healing ministry of Christ,” as this is consistent with the mission of the Florida Hospital. Dr. Simmonds, Jr., added, “Residents of [this] island should know that people care for them and by knocking down financial and insurance barriers, [the] strategy is to help stabilize the medical needs of those with chronic conditions so that their conditions would not worsen.”
 
The Florida Hospital, a 2,247-bed medical facility, is a member of Adventist Health System. The hospital serves the Greater Orlando area and extends its ministry to the Caribbean and Latin America. The community of St. Thomas applauds the Florida Hospital team of medical volunteers and celebrates its impact on the residents served.

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