– Debra L. W.
I received the notice concerning the NHSC program and am gravely concerned. This scholarship program has proven invaluable in our ability to recruit and retain superb health care professional at our health center, the St. Thomas East End Medical Center Corporation (STEEMCC). Prior to our receiving the designation, it was all but impossible to recruit and retain medical providers on our center. Since the designation, we have recruited and retained a physician’s assistant, two family medicine providers and one internal medicine provider. The internal medicine provider was rocked to relocate because her new husband could not find employment in the island. Prior to our staffing the center with these excellent physicians, we were seeing only about 200 patients per month. That number is now over 1600 patients per month. Though we have made our base salary more competitive, it is this much needed assistance which has enabled us to retain providers who might easily be seduced into the more lucrative private sector.
With this in mind, I implore you to share this letter with anyone and everyone involved in the decision to discontinue this program. The Virgin Islands remains amongst the most impoverished communities with nearly one-third of the population without health insurance. St. Thomas East End Medical Center now provides care to nearly 6,000 of those individuals. STEEMCC has also poised itself to increase this number to 10,000 over the next four years. We will not, however, be able to reach this goal without the medical providers in place – ready, willing, and ABLE – to care for these individuals. As you know, the cost of a medical education has escalated far beyond the inflation rate. We are already losing so many potential providers before they even start. The students fear that they will never be able to fulfill the fantastic loan burden required to obtain those precious two letters – M.D. They are, therefore, robbed of the opportunity to fulfill and manifest their destinies.
Please. Do whatever it takes to continue, improve, and refund this magnificent program.