Nearly seven months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, residents of the US Virgin Islands are still experiencing diminished resources caused by the storms. This week, Airlink partners JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines provided travel for 24 nurses from the American Federation of Teachers Nurses and Health Professionals (AFT) to St. Thomas and St. Croix to address a large remaining need on the islands: health services for students.
AFT nurses are seeing students who have been unable to receive necessary health screenings as a result of the 2017 Atlantic hurricanes, which hit as the school year was starting. By Sunday, they are expected to administer hearing and vision tests to 9,000 students.
The screenings help to address health conditions that may impede a student’s ability to learn and be successful in the classroom, including hearing loss and vision problems. Due to infrastructure damage, the capacity of local healthcare workers has been strained with the recent increase of students concentrated in fewer schools.
“I really think that what we’re doing is the beginning of what these children need so that they can have better futures,” says Tamarah Cline, registered surgical nurse.
The nurses are also working with the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI), who is assisting with local coordination and needs assessment.
Local students and community members are able to receive this support through a partnership between Airlink, CFVI, and AFT. The project is part of a Commitment to Action of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). The organizations were recognized last week by President Clinton in Miami for their dedication to ongoing hurricane recovery.