Patient crashes car through wall at Schneider Hospital
Published: August 13, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - A patient at Schneider Hospital who thought he was well enough to leave ended up driving his car right back into the hospital, causing the V.I. Health Department to shut down the immunization clinic until further notice.
The man was receiving treatment at the hospital's emergency room when he initially left the hospital early Sunday morning. He then drove his car into the side of the building, hospital officials said Monday.
He suffered only minor injuries, they said, and was checked into the hospital's behavioral health services clinic after being treated for any related wounds.
Officials would not release the man's name or say what he was being treated for before and after the incident. No other people were injured.
Hospital staff at the time did not know that the man had left the hospital until they saw him in the parking lot, at which point they tried to get him to return to the emergency room, hospital officials said.
"We cannot legally hold them here," said William MacKenzie, director of case management for the hospital.
Instead of returning to the hospital, the man tried to drive away unsuccessfully. He drove the car through the exterior wall until the front end of the vehicle was inside the building, where the U.S. Virgin Islands' Department of Health's vaccination clinic is located, hospital officials said.
The clinic, which is on the second floor of the hospital but is at ground level on the backside entrance, was closed Monday. It is expected to reopen today, hospital officials said. They have not yet received an estimate as to the extent of the damage.
"From a structural standpoint, we put a cover over the area," said Schneider CEO Bernard Wheatley.
The temporary cover is a black tarp that covers the opening where the vehicle entered. While temporary, the tarp is enough to fully close off the opening.
The clinic is expected to be well trafficked in the next few weeks because many parents wait to get their children vaccinated just before the school year starts, according to Health Department officials.
"It's not a rush yet, but it's right when we start to see parents come in," Health spokeswoman Eunice Bedminster said.
- Contact reporter Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane @dailynews.vi.