The job fair at the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center on Wednes-day, March 28, is just one of the many steps MKSCHC Administrator Harold Wallace is taking in an effort to improve operations at the health center.
There were nine applicants at the job fair in the morning, with more expected in the afternoon.
“After this job fair, we will be excellent in terms of staffing,” said Wallace. “We are trying to shore up some areas.”
The positions the health center was working to fill at the job fair were eliminated before Wallace came on board in September 2005.
“We are not bringing back all the positions that were eliminated,” said Wallace. “For the most part, we are taking a look at the gaps. We are not exactly filling what was taken away, but rather what we need.”
Beefing Up Staffing
Filling positions in security and the laboratory will help MKSCHC improve its customer service, explained Wallace.
“Getting help in the lab will give us the ability to provide evening coverage, so we’re not relying on just one lab technician,” he said. “We also want more security and security supervisors, to make sure we are paying attention late at night. We need to beef up staffing, so we have more than just one employee in some areas.”
Wallace is also pushing for the radiology technician’s schedule to expand from three days a week to five days a week in an effort to better serve St. John residents who need x-rays.
“The issue is working through the government process and getting back the positions we once had,” said Wallace.
Cleaning Up Billing Problems
Hiring a cashier and an employee to work in medical records is one of the ways Wallace is attempting to combat billing problems that several St. John residents have experienced.
“We are still cleaning up billing,” said Wallace. “It’s a work in progress.”
Wallace invited patients who have paid their bill but are still receiving notices and phone calls to bring proof of payment to the health center.
“With these new positions, we will be able to improve customer service, efficiency and the business, all together,” said Wallace. “It will put us in a position to run more smoothly.”
The expansion of non-invasive cardiology services, including stress tests, and opthalmology services are also on the horizon for MKSCHC.
Donations for Telemedicine
With the help of private donors, Wallace hopes to bring telemedicine, a popular phenomenon used by rural and isolated cities, to the health center.
“The Cleveland Clinic is doing telemedicine in the Florida Keys, which are in a remote area like we are,” said Wallace. “It’s hard to get specialists on staff, so this will afford us the ability to beam out. Doctors Elizabeth Barot and Joseph DeJames will correspond with these specialists, who will determine whether the patient needs to be transferred or we can help them here.”
The health center, which is negotiating with the Cleveland Clinic in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for its upcoming telemedicine program, will need donations in order to implement the service, explained Wallace.
“Telemedicine is what we need to do,” he said. “We will absolutely need donations, but it will be an investment well spent.”
No Birthing Center
On a less optimistic note, St. John residents will not be able to deliver their children on island any time soon.
“We’ve looked at it from all angles, and a birthing center won’t work,” said Wallace. “It could work if we got a higher appropriation from the Legislature, but putting the money into a broader coverage with telemedicine would work better. We do realize that people want to have children here.”
Wallace, who commutes from St. Thomas, has not been able to find housing on St. John, said he is dedicated to keeping the health center in shape.
“Running a 24-hour emergency room is expensive, complex, constant work,” he said Wallace. “I’m trying to get it where it needs to be to cover the safety of the island.”