Providing Aid When Disaster Strikes (Twice)

Back-to-back in September 2017, two Category 5 hurricanes slammed the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the months that followed, three waves of the Johns Hopkins Go Team—a response team of the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response—traveled to St. John to provide hands-on medical care and bring much-needed supplies and medicines.

As the territory is recovering, we engaged in a public-private collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies—former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s nonprofit—to augment federal response and support of the recovery effort.

A team of Johns Hopkins experts in disaster response, nursing, facilities and population health went to the Virgin Islands last January, and again this past June, to assess the health system and available services. They reviewed the needs, capacity and location of the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center and Morris F. de Castro Clinic in St. John. These facilities sustained extensive damage during the hurricanes, greatly hampering health services on the islands.

Our team also examined telemedicine needs and performed a timed study to assess emergency services on the island, including infrastructure, staffing, facilities and transport.

Based on their assessment, it became very clear that island authorities need to rethink and rebuild the health care system. As the project wrapped up, the team made recommendations, including improving health facilities and infrastructure, expanding access to care and increasing population health programs.

We see tremendous potential for the islands’ health system not only to recover, but to be strategically positioned to better serve the medical needs of its residents and the more than 2 million tourists who visit each year. 

This post highlights content from JHI’s FY17-FY18 Impact Report, Realizing the Mission. Read the full report and check out this video to learn more about our transformational work in international collaborative health from the last two fiscal years.