Patient Movement Exercise Focuses on Tracking and Safety in a Pandemic Environment

Federal and territorial partners conduct a Patient Movement Rehearsal of Concept Tabletop Exercise earlier this month at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital & Medical Center on St. Croix. FEMA, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health and the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency sponsored the exercise. Exercise participants focused on patient movement, tracking and safety. (Photo: FEMA/Mark A. Walters)

Federal and territorial partners focused on the movement of patients in a pandemic environment during a rehearsal of concept exercise earlier this month at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center in Christiansted. Exercise participants reviewed the territory’s movement and tracking of hospital patients with a focus on safety.

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health and the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency led the three-hour exercise with planning support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Exercise participants assessed coordination for inter-island or inter-facility patient movement with a scenario focused on a surge of COVID-19 patients.

Exercise objectives focused on:

Validation of planning through discussion of the Territory’s Patient Movement Annex for the Territorial Operational Plan

Assess inter-facility and inter-island coordination to support the movement of COVID-19 positive patients

Identification of potential safety, resource and supply chain challenges that may arise when transferring infectious patients between islands.

“The unified approach displayed during the patient movement exercise will strengthen the territory’s capability of moving patients between islands to support life-sustaining treatments for Virgin Islanders. Continuous collaboration between the hospitals, VITEMA, the DOH and private-sector partners will help close the gaps with patient movement coordination.

“We will continue to support the territory with planning and technical resources to help Virgin Islanders at their greatest times of need,” said FEMA U.S. Virgin Islands Caribbean Area Office Coordinator Mark A. Walters.

Participants from the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center and the Schneider Regional Medical Center focused on metrics of when to move patients between hospitals or medical facilities and looked at resources available for life-sustaining treatments. Real-world masking and social distancing requirements were used during the exercise.

“The Department of Health is committed to ensuring continued collaboration between Health, Hospitals and Human Services during the current surge of hospitalizations and the potential need to share resources within the territory. This, of course, can only be done with our local government, federal and private partners,” said V.I. Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion RN.

Public and private sector partners for the exercise included:

The Virgin Islands National Guard, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Human Services, Virgin Islands Port Authority, U.S. Virgin Islands Fire Service, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Justice, Virgin Islands Transportation, U.S. Health and Human Services, Pafford Medical Services and AeroMD.

“This opportunity to go come together both in person and virtually with all the agencies responsible for the safe movement of COVID-19 patients – local government, the federal government and private sector – demonstrates the serious threat to the territory and the importance of constant coordination and adjustments in protocols,” said VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen. “I want to thank all representatives for their involvement and open discussions,” said Jaschen.

The increase of COVID-19 patients at the territory’s hospitals emphasizes the importance of following the Department of Health’s guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19. Continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask when in the company of others outside of those in your household, clean frequently used areas thoroughly, and wash hands often with soap and warm water.

Learn more about the territory’s COVID-19 response at

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can prevent severe illness and death. To schedule an appointment, call 777-8227 or visit Walk-ins are also accepted at the territory’s two Community Vaccination Centers.

St. Croix’s Community Vaccination Center is located at the Nissan Center on St. Croix, which is in La Grande Princesse, adjacent to the Honda Dealership and The Paint Shop, on the same side of the street as Food Town.

On St. Thomas, the Community Vaccination Center is located at the Community Health Clinic on the second floor at the Schneider Regional Medical Center.