The St. Croix team had a different role – working with AeroCare, a provider of medical evacuation and transport services hired by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).
Damore and Puknaitis were on stand-by to help AeroCare transport seriously ill patients to the U.S. mainland for care. They helped with ambulance-to-plane transfers and accompanied the patient and family member on the flight, which was on a jet equipped like an ICU (Intensive Care Unit).
AeroCare called Puknaitis to care for a stroke patient in her 60s who would be flown to an Air Force base in South Carolina for care. Her condition was deteriorating because she hadn’t been able to access care until two or three days following her stroke.
“I was on hand during the flight in case she needed a respirator or cardiopulmonary support,” Puknaitis said in the hews release. “It turned out she was able to get by with a little oxygen and some medication. At the end of the flight, I helped transfer her to the ambulance in South Carolina and then flew back with the crew to St. Croix.”
Another pair of Edward Hospital employees – nurse Nermine Dauti and respiratory therapist Jason Thomas – were scheduled to leave for a mission with AeroCare after Damore and Puknaitis returned, but that trip to St. Croix was cancelled because there wasn’t a plane available.
Damore and Puknaitis said they did see some progress in the area’s recovery during their stay. Damore said when they first got to St. Croix and looked out from the decommissioned cruise ship that was their base, they only saw two lights.
She said in the release, “By the tenth day, we saw more and more lights – there was still no public access to electricity, but generators had been brought in.”
“We saw a lot of work like that happening and a lot of volunteers,” Puknaitis said in the release. “You don’t always hear about that.”
(Above, Nurse Camrai Damore and respiratory therapist Mark Puknaitis, who both work in Edward Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit, traveled to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands on a mission to provide medical relief to hurricane victims).