On November 30, 2006, nurse Carol Bloom has left Oak Ridge Community Clinic, the place where she worked and lived for nine years. “I’ve done nothing underhanded or wrong,” says Bloom who raised 3,000 Santos Guardiola resident’s signatures supporting her staying at the Oak Ridge Clinic.
While the dispute between several of the Clinic’s board members and Bloom has been going on, the people who suffered most were the poorest community members depended on clinic’s free services. Nurse Bloom offered a weekly diabetics clinic and these people were left to fend for themselves.
“We asked her to stay at the clinic, but move her apartment somewhere else,” says Pastor Abbott, member of the board of directors and spiritual leader of the clinic. The demand wasn’t feasible for Bloom who worked at the clinic for free and supported herself with a monthly $595 social security check. “It is impossible to get an apartment and live in Oak Ridge for this amount,” said Bloom.
“There were animals at the clinic and that is against clinic’s policies,” said Pastor Abbott. Bloom did use part of the clinic as her home and had one cat and her living arrangements gave the board the grounds to ask Nurse Bloom to move out. “You can never trust anyone,” Lila McNab, nurse Carol’s best friend, when asked about the moral of the story.
It is unclear whether Bloom’s residing at the clinic was a reason or an excuse for the board to ask her to leave. One possible reason is that the board of directors, while paying off the last portion of the clinics mortgage, wanted to determine the direction and the image of the clinic without nurse Bloom. “They wanted to control the clinic completely,” says Glenda Laurence, a long time clinic employee.
Nurse Bloom was involved and operated the clinic since 1996, when it was launched as a free employee clinic for nearby Nick Guarino’s Carnival Packing Plant. When the packing plant went bankrupt the clinic property was taken over by BANFA bank and the clinic continued to operate. “The bank had no problem with keeping the clinic open as long as it was free,” said Bloom. The only money collected from the patients was voluntary.
The board disputed whether donations of medications and equipment at the clinic were made to nurse Bloom, or the clinic. In November 2006, Coxen Hole judge ruled in Bloom’s favor and Bloom donated all the medications to the Pandy Town Clinic and stored the clinic’s equipment for future use.
The bitter end to nurse Carol’s involvement in the clinic not only divided the community, but was traumatic to Carol herself. On the morning of December 12 she suffered a minor heart attack and was hospitalized for three days. “Her entire life was focused on the clinic,” says about Bloom McNab.
Almost two months after Blooms left, tempers have finally come down. “We are not concerned about that anymore,” said Pastor Rudolph Abbott, treasurer of the Oak Ridge Clinic. “The bickering is over,” said Ben Rosenthal one of the clinic founders.
Nurse bloom took more then the medications and medical equipment, she took her fundraising supporters in the United States who sent as much as $27,000 a year for the clinic to operate. Her experience in gathering funds, professional expertise and full time commitment will be hard to replace.
Bloom already received offers of working at Pandy Town Clinic, another clinic soon to open in French Cay and was promised land for a new clinic in Oak Ridge by Roy Dilbert, a Pandy Town businessman.
While the board members plan to ask the government for a doctor practitioner and consider adding a nurse to help him, the plans and funding remain vague. Likely the clinic will no longer be free, but similarly structured to the nearby Polo Galindo and Pandy Town Clinics.
Fortunately for Santos Guardiolans at least one tradition started at the clinic is continued. The yearly, third in a row visit of eye specialist doctor took place as scheduled. On January 9 and 10, Dr. Darin Bowers and his team of ten volunteers treated over a dozen of patients removing their cataracts. [/private]