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Nurses Sit On The Sidelines, Refuse To Care For Patients In Standoff Over Vax Policy

SUNNY ISLE — Nurses at the Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center refuse to help patients during the delta surge of COVID-19 because they refuse to be vaccinated.

Nurses who have failed to comply with the St. Croix hospital’s health policies have been replaced in the interests of the health and safety of patients and staff at the Diamond Ruby facility.

JFL Interim CEO Dyma Williams said the hospital has bent over backwards for the vaccine hesitant nurses who fail to recognize the life-or-death consequences of their actions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This pandemic is a major health crisis and healthcare professionals and our dedicated JFL staff have led the way in the Territory’s response. It is our responsibility to lead in recovery and eradication of COVID-19 through vaccination. We ask for the public’s understanding and support as we work to create a safer patient care experience through this pandemic surge and in the future as we change to meet the needs of the community. Together, we have endured 17 months of the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic and the dynamic changes in healthcare brought about by this virus. Together, we will overcome the challenges we are currently facing.”

Keeping skilled local nurses and employees is a top priority for JFL. The goal of the vaccine mandate is not to exclude anyone, but to ensure the safety of staff and patients and the overall community, Williams added.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said on Meet The Press today that he is not allowed to treat patients with infectious diseases such as hepatitis and influenza, unless he is fully vaccinated first.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, the cardiologist who advised the White House under President George W. Bush, said on CNN that fully 96 percent of physicians in the United States are vaccinated.

If you are unvaccinated and you get COVID-19, you 300 percent more likely to die from the disease than a vaccinated individual.

Fact v. Fiction

FICTION: JFL is the only hospital requiring vaccination of healthcare providers.
FACT: JFL and Schneider join 123 other hospitals, plus two states – New York and California – in requiring vaccination for healthcare workers. In addition, employees at JFL are required to have several other vaccines given the sensitivity of patient care.

FICTION: A plane full of nurses is being brought in to replace nurses who refuse to be vaccinated.
FACT: The nurses that have been engaged are for the surge. The process of bringing these nurses to the territory was commenced in the beginning of the pandemic in preparation for a surge. As the sole, acute hospital on the island of St. Croix, patient care must continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days per year. We are thankful for all employees that help us to achieve this important goal.

FICTION: Nurses at JFL did not receive hazardous pay for care of COVID-19 patients.
FACT: All employees with direct patient care responsibilities to COVID-19 patients receive a COVID-19 differential.

FICTION: JFL has made no efforts to hire employees during the pandemic.
FACT: JFL has made several efforts to recruit employees. We continue to make every effort to
recruit staff in response to the surge. There are many difficulties including GERS, housing costs, geographical isolation and salaries that are no longer competitive in a post-COVID-19 world.

For more information on COVID-19, please visit the Virgin Islands Department of Health’s website, or text COVID19USVI to 888777.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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