STJ Residents Net Advice at Health Fair

Charmaine Mayer hands out health information to St. John residents.
Charmaine Mayer hands out health information to St. John residents.

St. John residents lined up Wednesday morning in Cruz Bay’s Frank Powell Park to get information and some free handy gadgets during the Virgin Islands Department of Health’s Health and Preparedness Fair.

Similar events were held on St. Thomas and St. Croix in June to help residents maintain their health during hurricane season. Since the storm season is now winding down, event organizers decided to focus on community health rather than storm preparation.

Department of Health staff members met with residents to describe services for managing chronic diseases, disinfecting cisterns, maintaining a proper diet and coping with stress.

Charmaine Mayer, acting director of the Maternal and Child Health Program, was busy handing out mosquito nets for babies and children. The baby nets – little tents made out of netting that spring into shape upon opening – can protect a baby from mosquitoes that carry diseases including Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya.

Mayer said the Department of Health has a grant to work with babies born to Zika-positive mothers and was planning a Zika health brigade for the last week of March.

“We’re also promoting our nurse-family parenting program, and our hearing screening program. We test the hearing of all children when they enter kindergarten and again when they leave elementary school,” she said.

A few steps away, Love City Strong was encouraging residents to fill out a File of Life with their medical history to keep at home in the event of an emergency.

Leona Smith, who works with the organization, said the completed file helps emergency medical technicians know how to proceed if they arrive at a home and find that a person in need of care is unresponsive.

Members of St. John Rescue gave free blood pressure screenings and handed out flashlight keychains. Stephanie Hammett, who manages the non-profit agency’s office, said construction of their new headquarters across from the Gifft Hill School is moving forward; the new facility is expected to open by February.

At the nearby Morris de Castro Clinic, communicable diseases specialists Nicole Swan and Cierra Joshua encouraged passersby to come in for HIV and STD screening and testing.

“We come to St. John twice a month – on the second and fourth Tuesdays,” Swan said. “A lot of people come in because we give out free condoms; they love those condoms,” she said.