Hurricanes

'Thankful for their help:' Fort Bragg soldiers aid in USVI hospital Irma recovery

Posted 11:49 p.m. Friday
Updated 10:12 p.m. Monday

— The main hospital in St. Thomas sustained extensive damage from Hurricane Irma. Fort Bragg soldiers are aiding recovery efforts, as the Schneider Regional Medical Center staff and people of the Virgin Islands work to move forward.

Tina Comissiong is a 2004 graduate of Duke University and the current CEO of the hospital. When powerful Hurricane Irma hit, she and her staff had to act fast.

"I was here during the event," Comissiong said. "I was actually on the unit on the floor when the area above the nurse's station when it began to give way."

She said the day was terrifying.

"We were literally, physically picking patients up and carrying them down the stairs and coming back, putting patients in chairs and sliding them down the hall," she said.

One week after the storm, the hospital is operating but not at full capacity. With the help of the 602nd Area Support Medical company, the hospital can evacuate patients in need of additional care.

"If they are evacuated, they have to be loaded into the back of the ambulance, and they need to be taken to a different location to where they can get a higher level of care," Sgt. Kelsey Turner said.

"(Soldiers) are also helping in any way that they can, such as helping even cleaning up the parking lot, even getting the debris away," Lt. Carolina Johnson said.

Comissiong said she can't say enough about the help the soldiers, as they help her staff and the people of the Virgin Islands.

"A huge thanks to them and the Navy helicopters that came in and the Coast Guard helicopters that came in," she said. "To have this large contingent from the Army is really fantastic and we're really thankful for their help."

The soldiers with the 602nd and others aren't taking over the hospital but supporting the role of the current staff.

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