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Oregon Nurse Returns to Virgin Islands to Help Students

Most people visit the U.S. Virgin Islands to relax on sandy beaches, but in May a group of nurses and teachers were there for a very different reason – to help children who are still feeling the effects of the 2017 hurricane season. The back to back storms brought strong winds, rain and hail that destroyed homes, business and fields.

This was the second year of a joint effort by AFT and the Clinton Global Initiative to send dozens of nurses to the islands to conduct speech, hearing and vision screenings on school children. Nurses donated their time while AFT covered the expenses. ONA member Tamie Cline participated last year and felt compelled to return.

“It’s really humbling and eye-opening to see how far they’ve come, but how far they still have to go,” she reflected.

Many children suffered hearing damage from the hurricanes’ powerful winds and others lost eye glasses and prescriptions. “This year we conducted about ten thousand screenings in the schools,” said Tamie. “The school principals were so accommodating and grateful.”

Tamie is a surgical RN at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston and is active in the bargaining unit. “My hope would be that all of ONA would take advantage of these opportunities to make a difference,” she said. “I was getting kind of burned out and this reminded me why I love nursing and helped me reset.”

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