By Shani Isaac | ST.CROIX–A medical textbook lays wide open as the harsh light of the laptop beams out onto a intensely studying student’s face. Facts and data must be recognized, for in this young woman’s desired line of work, a simple mistake could mean death for her patient.
This is an average scene for a student, in this case, Shanice Rawlins, a sophomore here at UVI studying to be a nurse . Her future, or at least, her future for gaining a start here in the Virgin Islands is uncertain due to the troubles afflicting the sole hospital on the island, the Juan F. Luis Hospital. Due to certain decisions and inadequate response to situations at the local hospital, there is disappointment and uncertainty regarding its future. This aspiring nurse is among the uncertain faction.
“I am actually more concerned about being accredited so that when we go to get a job on the mainland, they don’t say, “Oh, the hospital you were at wasn’t certified.” says Rawlins, a look of anxiety on her visage. While it is also an option to go elsewhere to get experience, some students may not be in a financial situation to go abroad, or even to the mainland, to gain valuable internships or experience. The decertification of Juan F. Luis Hospital, due to questionable care and incorrect observation of procedures may negatively impact this select group of students, as many institutions in the United States look far more favorably on receiving nurses from certified hospitals, rather than the alternative.
Students, and not just the nursing students, at UVI are concerned about both the professional and medical aspects of the fall-out from JFL. “Health wise, there is a right way of doing things and the wrong way of doing things. People at JFL tend to take the short way out. Their technology is not that advanced. For example, stateside hospitals are equipped with scanners, and our hospital is not.”, says Rawlins, who has shadowed at JFL in the past. This is a claim supported by some of the stories coming in from previous reports of incidents that have sickened and even resulted in the death of several people. Then there was a case of the mismanaged handling of the corpse of a 22-week year old baby. One of the highlighted cases of questionable management is the hiring of a doctor allegedly responsible for the death of two patients, whose license was suspended at the time of her hiring, according to the St. Croix Avis.
There is a general sense of fear among the populace, particularly for elder relatives of the UVI students who rely on Medicare in order to get the medical treatment that they need. Now that Medicare has given JFL an extension, those people are worrying, not just for themselves, but for their families and communities. More and more people are going to the states for medical treatment. “The atmosphere is friendly,” says Rawlins , “but the bills are ridiculous.” With many Crucian families suffering from the high electric bill and a general raised cost of living, being hit with a medical crisis cannot be anything short of harsh for them.
“They had enough time to do it, they had enough time to fix the issues.” Rawlins says, “Rather than purchasing unnecessary crap The fact that so many years passed between the initial investigation and the subsequent decertification is shocking to many. “Yes, you have to make the place look nice, but still, you have to worry about the procedures and how to take care of the patient.
She finishes out, a stern, almost angered look on her face, “The purpose of the hospital is to care about the patient. We shouldn’t really be worrying about ourselves but of the patient and how we take care of them.” Although Rawlins is fond of her home island and the program she participates it, it would appear that for now, her future lays elsewhere.