For many years AARP Virgin Islands has partnered and collaborated with the Virgin Islands Medical Institute, Inc. (VIMI), the healthcare Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) for the U.S. Virgin Islands contracted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on many issues. Since 2000, VIMI has facilitated the largest health fair in the Territory – CareForce.
Originally the CareForce Project was a joint military-civilian project with the Indiana Air Guard. The Project grew to involve a diverse population of partners that included the Virgin Islands National Guard (VING), AARP-VI, the VI Department of Human Services, HOVENSA, VI Department of Health – (Immunization and Dental), UnitedHealth Group, UVI Nursing Departments and LPN’s programs on both islands, the Clinical Laboratory St. Croix, Cranston-Dottin Laboratory on St. Thomas, People United for a Better VI (PUBVI), and numerous individual volunteers from our community.
During the 10th Year Anniversary it was announced that CareForce 2010 would be the last. CareForce was initiated due to the low immunization rates for influenza and pneumococcal vaccine in the adult population and especially the Medicare population in the VI. CareForce had been tremendously successful in moving the influenza immunization rate in the VI from 3 percent to over 50 percent in the Medicare population.
In 2009 and 2010 the VI Department of Health made great strides in facilitating comparable immunizations and health screening projects, filling the gap that CareForce was initially designed to fill. CareForce was always meant to be a temporary project, a project that would energize our local health providers to embrace immunizations and address the needs of our community. With the increased participation over the years by the VI Department of Health, CareForce has achieved that goal.
VIMI is confident that the VI Department of Health will continue its efforts in 2011 and beyond to facilitate immunizations and provide health screening projects that will promote the same mission as CareForce. It is our hope that they will continue to improve the delivery of health screening and immunization services to individuals residing in medically underserved communities primarily the elderly population.
At a meeting in the VIMI office, their staff thanked everyone who contributed so generously to making CareForce a success, and stated they could not have made CareForce the largest and most successful health screening event in the Territory without the partnership between the various public and private organizations.
The volunteers and staff of AARP VI will greatly miss CareForce. We anticipate that the VI Department of Health will continue on the path of providing the service and keeping consumers aware of its importance. We hope that everyone will continue to get their influenza vaccine annually and make regular appointments for the other preventive services offered at CareForce.