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HomeNewsLocal newsOverwhelming Response to the Wellness Fair Throughout the Territory

Overwhelming Response to the Wellness Fair Throughout the Territory

Long line at the St. Croix Educational Complex on Wednesday waits outside with hopes of entering to receive free medical services. (Source photo by Diana Dias)

By 7:00 a.m. Wednesday at the St. Croix Educational Complex, the lines were already starting to form at the Wellness Fair. The nine-day event, which began over the weekend, has taken place across the territory. It offers a wide range of no-cost healthcare services, from dental and optometry care to comprehensive medical screenings and mental wellness checks.

When the gates opened at 8:30 a.m., a military healthcare professional from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training Program (IRT) said they would not be taking patients for dental or optometry services, just medical services. Patients interested in these services can return between Thursday and Saturday.

Some visibly frustrated community members left the line because they were specifically hoping for those services. One member who did not want to be named said, “I’ve been trying to get in since yesterday. I was told to return today, and yet again, I was not able to enter.”

“Our numbers have been more than we anticipated,” said Dr. Tai Hunte-Ceaser, chief medical officer for the Health Department, at a press conference Tuesday.

Health Department and IRT held a press conference on Tuesday. (Screenshot from Tuesday’s press conference)

Nearly 300 military healthcare professionals from across the nation have been serving the community. As of Tuesday, there were 650 patients total seen on St. Thomas and St. John and 353 patients seen on St. Croix. There were 809 patients for optometry care, 589 patients for medical care, 743 patients for dental care, and 1,000 for behavioral and dietary care.

“The response to the services is giving us a very good picture of the understanding of the needs of the community,” said Hunte-Ceaser.

At the Complex on Tuesday a crowd of patients became hostile while trying to enter the gates to receive care. Wednesday’s scene was tamer as the V.I. Police Department stepped in to ensure order.

“We unfortunately will have varying cutoff times of persons that will be serviced at each site every day and we are asking for your patients. If we are unable to receive that service on that day, we will do our best to ensure that you are able to receive the services throughout the remainder of the clinic fair dates,” said Hunte-Ceaser.

“There has been some speculation about our supplies, but we do not have a supply concern that would limit the services to the community. We continue to work with our community partners to make sure the supplies are needed for all the services that are going to be provided, especially the dental care,” she said.

Hunte-Ceaser said that while she encourages patients to preregister, it is important to understand that preregistration is not an appointment. The IRT Clinic is providing the services on a first-come, first-served basis.

“That was an opportunity for us to capture data initially to determine the amount of people that we were going to be expecting to ensure that we will be able to provide the services,” she said.

Although Hunte-Ceaser said that it has now been changed to register by day, as of Wednesday, the website still reflects a time option. “That day slot still does not guarantee you to be seen on that day,” she said.

Hunte-Ceaser said that they are still honoring the 20 elderly and disabled slots in the morning, but the person must truly be elderly and disabled to be honored for these appointments. There are 80-plus members working at the St. Croix Educational Complex and the Great Hall for the MCH clinic.

To visit the Health Clinic hours and locations include the following:

  • Monday through Friday (June 3 – 7) from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday (June 8) from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Sunday (June 9) from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. “Connecting Community to Care” is specifically for those who have already received medical services and need referrals to local care providers.

 

  • St. Thomas:  Ivanna Eudora Kean High School and V.I. Department of Health Maternal Child Health (MCH Clinic)
  • St. Croix:  St. Croix Educational Complex and University of the Virgin Islands’ Great Hall is an MCH Clinic.
  • St. John: MCH Clinic in the Morris deCastro Clinic.

The IRT program is exclusive to the United States and territories. It provides joint training opportunities to enhance deployment readiness and delivers essential services such as healthcare, construction, transportation, and cybersecurity, creating lasting benefits for American communities.

All healthcare providers participating in the Wellness Fair are credentialed professionals, ensuring the highest standard of care.

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