Nearly seven months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, residents of the US Virgin Islands were still experiencing diminished resources caused by the storms. In early April, 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 saw students who had been unable to receive necessary health screenings as a result of the 2017 Atlantic hurricanes, which hit as the school year was starting. AFT nurses are estimated to have administered 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.
Airlink and AFT coordinated with the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI), who is assisting with local coordination and needs assessment.
The coordinated effort between Airlink, CFVI, and AFT is part of a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action. The three organizations were recognized by President Clinton in April for their dedication to ongoing hurricane recovery.