Feb. 2, 2005 The Roy Lester Schneider Hospital has embarked on a residency program with the Washington Hospital Center of Washington, D.C.
At a press conference Wednesday, Rodney Miller, hospital CEO, said the hospital began an "educational affiliation" with the Washington Hospital Center in October to allow for medical students who are near completion of their studies, and fellowship recipients to practice their specialty at the Schneider Hospital for a month.
The program is sponsored by the Washington Hospital Center, which Michael Burton, public relations officer for Schneider, referred to as "one of the top centers in the nation."
The Washington Hospital Center is responsible for the financial support and benefits of the residents during their month-long stay at Schneider Hospital. The Washington Hospital is also responsible for providing malpractice insurance for the residents during their rotation at Schneider.
Miller said the program was due in part to the efforts of Dr. Thelma Watson, Schneider Hospital medical director. Watson, a V.I. native, had worked at the Washington Hospital Center before returning to work in the territory and used her contacts at the Washington Hospital to initiate the program.
"This is certainly a historic event in that this is the first time Schneider Hospital is taking a teaching facility position," Miller said.
Miller said the program provides several benefits for the hospital.
"It gives us specialists who practice in areas that we do not currently offer," Miller said. "It also gives us a recruiting tool."
Currently, the program is accepting residents in the area of podiatry and cardiology. Dr. Stephen Kominsky, program director, will serve as the supervisor for the podiatry residents participating in the program. Dr. Roy Flood, Schneider Hospital cardiologist, will serve as supervisor for the cardiology residents.
Dixie Dallas of Tennessee, a training podiatrist, and Dr. Olivier Frankenberger of New York, a cardiology fellow, are the two residents currently participating. Dallas is the fifth resident in podiatry, while Frankenberger is the first resident in cardiology.
Miller said the program fits in with Schneider Hospital's goal of being "the top hospital in the Caribbean." He said they would work toward a continued relationship with the Washington Hospital Center, and added, Schneider Hospital would no longer make referrals for patients to Puerto Rico.
"If we cannot provide the services ourselves, we will make sure that we refer our patients to the best facilities," Miller said.
Watson said, "This is such an important program that we have embarked on."
She added, as the program develops, more specialty areas would be added.
"A hospital like this where you're the only game in town, obviously provides a lot of opportunities," Watson said. "Plus, the residents do great things for us as well. It's a win-win situation on both sides."
June Adams, chairwoman of the Schneider Hospital board, said, "Today, I am especially pleased that Dr. Watson has used her connections to bring us a program that we absolutely needed."
Adams said Schneider Hospital has a commitment to provide the best health care possible for not only those in the territory, but the entire Caribbean region.
Adams made reference to local news that was critical of Schneider's hiring of a staff cardiologist. Adams said Flood's hiring would in no way affect the cardiac care unit to be built on St. Croix.
"I know of no hospital that is accredited that does not have a cardiologist on staff," Adams said, adding, in the event someone in the process of having a heart attack came to the hospital, there would be no time to transfer them to St. Croix and, therefore, they needed someone capable on staff.
Dr. Margaret Sprauve, president of the medical staff, said, "We're looking forward to getting residents in more areas."
Frankenberger, who has been at Schneider Hospital for two days, has already noticed a problem plaguing the community.
"High blood pressure is really a problem," Frankenberger said. "There's a lot of room to grow in preventative care."
Dallas, who began her work at Schneider Hospital Friday, said her time thus far has been educational.
"We see some unique pathology problems here, so it's good experience," Dallas said.
Kominsky said he would be hosting a clinic at Schneider Hospital Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. to discuss diabetic and other foot ailments. Kominisky said he is also working with the Washington Hospital Center to assist in providing local diabetics with special custom-made shoes.
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