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Traveling ICU Nurse Notices Territory Could Use More Nursing Help In Hospitals Due To COVID-19

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Her battle with COVID-19 began in New York City, shifted to Connecticut and now has her in St. Thomas.

That’s where Rachel Hartley currently helps to fight the coronavirus pandemic for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Hartley, a 2015 Cedarville University (Ohio) nursing and 2020 Master of Science in Nursing alumna, arrived in the territory in September on contract with FEMA. Hartley’s contract requires her to stay in the USVI until Thanksgiving.

ICU Nurse Rachel Hartley in St. Thomas.

The USVI was hit hard by COVID-19 in the spring, and the islands were shut down to tourists from March 25 to June 1. They reopened briefly during the summer, but closed again from August 19 to September 19.

Hartley works as an intensive care unit nurse at Schneider Regional Medical Center (SRMC) in Charlotte Amalie.

“My job is the same as it was in New York, where I’m coming in as a contracted nurse to work in the ICU, helping with COVID patients,” she said. “They were seeing a high volume of patients in the hospital and had to convert one of their floors into a COVID floor. They were still recovering from two Category 5 hurricanes that had come through.”

“There’s been discussion about the mental health effects of battling COVID on health care workers,” Hatley added. “It’s been good to hear their stories and realize how this has changed us and changed our personalities.”

The situation with COVID-19 is fairly calm right now, even with the islands opening again to tourism.

“There still is a steady stream of COVID cases, a mix of mild to several, but no longer overwhelming the hospital,” she said. “The big thing is that cruise ships haven’t come back yet, so that’s what everyone is bracing for. The hospital is short staffed in general, so even though COVID hospitalizations have slowed down a bit, they still need lots of nursing help.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study.

For more information about Cedarville University, visit

SOURCE: Cedarville University

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