While I was home in St. Thomas earlier this summer with my three children, my 6-year-old daughter had an accident that required stitches. My 4-and-a-half-year-old son had already had stitches twice, so this was not new for me.
Being a third-generation local, I have heard horror stories about the St. Thomas hospital but had no personal experience. Nonetheless, I was so skeptical about my daughter receiving the same quality of care on island that my son received in the continental United States that I actually considered flying to Puerto Rico or Florida for stitches!
As I reached the emergency room entrance with my daughter in arms, a man approached us, offering help. He was well-spoken and professional. He greeted me with kindness and compassion, reassuring me that someone would be with me shortly. When my daughter and I saw the nurse (who was also very kind), this same man popped in. He again comforted my daughter and me, then asked if she would like a candy bar. The tears stopped, and things were quickly better! I offered him money for the candy bar, but he refused.
We were seen by a Latino doctor, who took the time to tell us a story of her own childhood experience in getting stitches. She then conferred with a second doctor, also very nice, who recommended Dermabond stitches.
As my daughter’s chin was being worked on, this kind man appeared again to see how we were doing.
After four hours at the hospital, we left in relief and gratitude. My daughter was cared for so well that she appears to be healing with less scarring than my son has from sutures. I wish I could thank personally all the individuals who helped us. Most of all, my heartfelt thanks to Elijah Punter, the kind man who saw us through. You are a leader and an asset to Schneider Hospital and the community.
Never again will I sit through a horror story about medical care on St. Thomas. I now have a positive, personal experience to share. I thank you all so very much!
Leah Johnson-Warner and 6-year-old Berkleigh