Acting Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett announced that the Department of Health’s Functional and Access Needs Shelter is opened and accepting residents at the Charles Harwood Medical Complex for persons needing medical assistance during emergency evacuation situations.
Plaskett said that the intent is to provide, to the extent possible under emergency conditions, an environment in which the current level of health of persons with functional and access needs is sustained within the capability of available resources. The shelter will be opened at 7 p.m. on St. Croix.
Functional and access needs are independent individuals with special medical support equipment needs or receive care in the home from a family member, she said.
“Those eligible for the [shelter] have physical or mental condition that require medical/nursing oversight that cannot be accommodated or provided for in a general population shelter,” Plaskett said.
Functional and Access Needs persons should bring medical equipment, such as oxygen tanks, if necessary and all medication and dietary supplies.
Further, when a person requiring functional and access needs care is ordered to evacuate, he or she should bring a caregiver with them to the shelter who will be expected to remain with the Functional and Access Needs person.
Plaskett said that Department of Health nurses are assigned to staff the shelter to assist individuals and their caregivers as needed for basic support services. The nursing staff will provide support within their scope of practice based on their training and qualifications and are not expected to provide total care beyond their professional level of expertise. A DOH physician will supervise the nurses.
The following are some of the criteria for Functional and Access Needs.
People with minor health/medical conditions that require professional observation, assessment and maintenance
People with contagious health conditions that require precautions or isolation which cannot be handled in a general population shelter
People with chronic conditions that require assistance with activities of daily living but do not require hospitalization
People with regular need for medications and/or regular vital sign readings and who are unable to do so without professional assistance