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St. Thomas – Irma & Maria

St. Thomas – Irma & Maria

In early 2018, R-S-I was called upon to deploy nursing staff to St. Thomas, USVI through an EMAC request to Louisiana. The local hospital had lost almost 70% of their staff due to hurricanes Irma and Maria. Prior to the hurricanes, the hospital was a thriving 156 bed acute care facility. Post hurricanes, the hospital was struggling both structurally and staff support to manage 40 beds and services. The facility was structurally challenged and was being considered to be condemned. Many medical personnel left the island due to inhabitability of their homes and closing of local schools for their children. The original request was for 12 nurses for six weeks. This deployment beginning in late January was extended to June 1 st and increased to over 20 nurses. R-S-I deployed over 90 staff rotating over these 5 months. Logistically, R-S-I staff housing was a constantly changing aspect of life. Upon arrival staff stayed on a FEMA leased cruise ship; upon its demobilization, staff were moved to local hotel accommodations. Most hotels were struggling to maintain basic services. As the deployment extended, apartment accommodations were identified to aid our staff in acquiring greater quality rest and comfort. Our staff were working 13-hour days including transportation to and from the hospital. Food services were limited, so many staff prepared their own food to assure themselves of proper nutrition. Additionally, our staff realizing the impacts of such deployments also maintained their health by staying on a good exercise program while on deployment. The St. Thomas deployment was unique in the aspects of a long-term deployment in managing both the mission of supporting the hospital and maintain both the physical and mental needs of our Strike Team.