Sandy Colasacco is the founder and executive director of the Island Health and Wellness Center. (She is one of the most important members of the St. John community in my opinion.)
For the past four years, we’ve been telling you about the daily happenings on St. John. We’ve told you about the best bars and restaurants, businesses that have closed, businesses that have opened, island events, and much more. We tend to stick to things that appeal to the masses (beaches, restaurants and overall fun) while we tend to shy away from some of the deeper topics that affect the island. Well we’re changing things up a bit today. We’re going to talk about healthcare here on St. John. I hope you all read on…
St. John has the highest rate of uninsured people in the entire US Virgin Islands. The number of uninsured here is actually five times more than the national average. A recent survey found that 72 percent of people living here do not have insurance that covers primary care services and 56 percent of residents have no insurance at all.
You’re probably asking yourselves “why”. Well unless you’re working for a larger corporation like the Westin or Caneel Bay, for example, it’s pretty difficult to get health insurance here. It simply does not exist. So it’s not that we don’t want to pay for health insurance; many of us simply cannot get it.
So who exactly are the uninsured? Well many are active members of the community – your servers, bartenders, boat captains and crew, retail personnel and manual laborers who work hard to keep the tourism industry thriving and the community strong.
So what do people do when they’re in need of healthcare? Honestly, many put it off. That same survey we mentioned above showed that more than 70 percent of St. John residents have delayed or avoided healthcare when primarily due to high costs and inability to pay. Seventy percent. This, in turn, often makes for worsening conditions, higher rates of morbidities and mortalities, and a community not as healthy as it should be.
Well all of this is about to change thanks to a new non-profit, primary health care practice here on island – the Island Health and Wellness Center. It’s honestly a godsend to our community.
The Island Health and Wellness Center welcomes everyone – both residents and visitors – and all visits cost just $50. If lab testing is needed, there may be an additional $50 to $100 cost; however no one will ever be turned away due to inability to pay. The Center offers everything from sick visits and physicals to women’s health exams and family planning to chronic health management. (The Center does not accept insurance of any kind.)
The Island Health and Wellness Center is the brainchild of Sandy Colasacco. Sandy is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. As a healthcare provider in the Territory, Sandy has seen, first-hand, the lack of affordable health care options. So she decided to do something about it. And what she has created is simply amazing. We cannot thank you enough Sandy.
As we mentioned, the Center is a non-profit which means it relies solely on donations and grants. One of the great things about running News of St. John is that we have the ability to raise money. So we’re holding a pretty amazing raffle to support the new Island Health and Wellness Center. Stay tuned for more info on that.
And for those of you who would like to donate to the Center, you can do so by clicking this link. (Scroll down to the Donate button.)
The Center is located in Palm Plaza, which is across from St. John Market near the Westin. It is open Monday through Friday with varying hours depending on the day. Call (340) 714-4270 to make an appointment. You can also visit its website to learn more at www.islandhealthcenter.org