Healthcare is a necessity of life, and is therefore one of the first things most of us establish when relocating to a new place. In the Caribbean, the quality and availability of medical care can vary drastically from island to island. The good news for anyone living on St. Croix, or anyone considering moving here, is that the island is home to a new state-of-the-art facility offering a full spectrum of healthcare services. Plessen Healthcare’s team of licensed physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and staff are taking new patients and providing quality healthcare right here on St. Croix.
Founded by Dr. Jan Tawakol and Dr. Tasnim Khan, Plessen Healthcare and Plessen Medical Group are working to improve local healthcare on St. Croix and to attract medical tourism to the island. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to sit down with Dr. Tawakol to talk about this new facility, and it was obvious from our conversation that he is passionate about bringing better and more affordable healthcare services to St. Croix. In fact, the Plessen clinic is not only committed to providing quality medical services to existing residents, but also hopes to attract new residents who require that same level of quality healthcare services. With a new facility and an expanding patient base, Plessen hopes to also attract more specialized medical professionals to St. Croix which will expand the medical services available here on the island.
Plessen Medical Group provides adult primary care, women’s health services, and general health maintenance services, but the clinic also specializes in internal medicine and management of chronic illnesses like hypertension and kidney disease. Plessen also offers a host of subspecialties, including: Nephrology, Interventional Nephrology, Hypertension, Electrolyte Disturbances, Acute & Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis Access Care, 24 hour Blood Pressure Monitoring, and Spirometry Lung Function Testing. The facility also includes an optical shop and a fully accredited Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC), which is currently offering much needed ophthalmologic services. They started the ASC with an emphasis on cataract and glaucoma procedures in order to address a backlog of almost 800 residents in the USVI needing “urgent eye surgery”. The ASC was also recently approved to perform vascular surgery, and Plessen has plans to expand and offer other specialized surgeries in the near future.
Plessen Pioneers Telemedicine in the Territory
In 2020, Plessen Healthcare started offering telemedicine appointments. Luckily for St. Croix, their offering started just ahead of the worldwide coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and is allowing patients to be safely screened without leaving home. According to a press release from their office:
“Plessen Healthcare is now seeing patients at their medical center on the Orange Grove campus by appointment on Tuesdays in a dedicated examination room outfitted with equipment and technology that makes it possible for patients on St Croix to receive specialized medical care by doctors at locations across the globe. Rheumatologist Dr. Malgorzata Dawiskiba began seeing patients at the end of December 2019 via Telemedicine at Plessen.
Dr. Dawiskiba is board certified and licensed in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and maintains an active rheumatologic practice in Massachusetts. She was raised on St Croix and is a 1997 graduate of Good Hope School. Dr. Dawiskiba earned her medical degree from Tufts School of Medicine in Boston in 2008. Assisting her in the examination room on St Croix is Medical Assistant, Dena Romero, who was enrolled by Plessen Healthcare to Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania to receive training and certification as a Telehealth Facilitator.
Spearheaded by Dr. Tawakol’s vision and his passion for providing the best, modern healthcare options for the community, Plessen Healthcare, LLC invested in and funded the initial research and development phase of the Telemedicine project while identifying the unique geographical challenges of providing telemedicine services to patients on St Croix.
‘With a functioning health information exchange as well as a telemedicine program we are now current with the medical innovations and advancements, and are able to provide our community with the state-of-the-art healthcare they deserve.’ states Dr. Jan Tawakol, one of the founders of Plessen Healthcare and a clinical team member of the USVI Government Telehealth Task Force.
The technology and equipment that has made telemedicine possible was funded by a grant from USDA Rural Development. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density.
Plessen Healthcare currently has two examination rooms outfitted for telemedicine in Orange Grove and is currently working on an additional two at a soon-to-be-announced location. Future telemedicine plans include expanding the roster of doctors specializing in other areas of medicine.”
If you are looking for an efficient and committed healthcare provider, Plessen is the best place to start. Here are some important facts you should know about Plessen Healthcare and some of the special services they offer:
- Plessen accepts Medicare and most major insurance. For those with little or no insurance, Plessen does offer patient financing support.
- The Plessen Medical Group and ASC are centrally located just outside of downtown Christiansted in the lower level of the Government Employee Retirement System Building in Golden Rock.
- Plessen is set up to be a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH). For those not familiar with this concept, it is a care delivery model that allows patient treatment to be coordinated and centralized through a primary care physician to ensure that you receive the necessary care when and where you need it. Basically, this means Plessen will coordinate and keep your medical records from all of your doctors and specialists, schedule recurring appointments or lab work, provide referrals, and more.
- For those traveling to St. Croix for treatment at Plessen, they will arrange transportation to and from the seaport or airport for your convenience.
- The Plessen medical staff offers House Calls to hotels that partner with them, currently The Buccaneer and Chenay Bay Beach Resort.
- Plessen has expanded to include telemedicine options for patients on St Croix to receive specialized medical care by doctors at locations across the globe.
Now that you have decided to visit Plessen for yourself, how do you go about making an appointment to set up your healthcare? Dr. Tawakol offered some very helpful suggestions to make your patient transition into the Plessen Medical Group seamless. Whether you are a resident of St. Croix, or you will be traveling to the island for medical care, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Contact Plessen Medical Group ahead of time so that they can provide you with the proper Medical Record Release and Patient Registration forms, and get you set up as a patient in their electronic system. To contact Plessen call (340) 227-4255 or visit their website at www.plessenhealthcare.com/contact.html.
- Have your doctor’s office(s) fax your medical records/history to Plessen on their HIPPA compliant fax line at (949) 222-2719, where it will be saved directly into your electronic patient file.
- Schedule your first appointment a couple of weeks in advance so that the Plessen staff can provide you with paperwork to get any necessary lab work done, and have the results submitted back to the Plessen Medical Group, before your first appointment.
You only get one body and one life, so your health should be your number one priority. Whether you were born and raised on St. Croix, you are moving to the island, or you are willing to travel for quality medical care here in the Caribbean, Plessen Healthcare will take excellent care of you. Take charge of your health and schedule your appointment with Plessen today.
– Jennie Ogden, Editor
Plessen Medical Group is a new health center providing a deeply committed team of physicians and nurse practitioners that offers the following services: adult primary care, women’s health care, internal medicine, hypertension and diabetes management, treatment for all stages of kidney disease, 24 hour blood pressure monitoring for...
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