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Medicare Questions and Answers

Questions from the Beneficiary

Please DO NOT substitute the information given on this Web site for that of a medical professional or doctor.

I have heard that the flu shot prevents the flu but my friend got the flu shot and she still got the flu. I am confused, does the flu shot really cause the flu?

No, you can not get the flu from the flu shot. However, if you get the flu shot too late--when you have already been exposed to the flu virus, you may come down with the flu. In addition, it may take up to six weeks to get the full benefit of the flu shot. The best prevention is to get your flu shot early in September or October each year. You can get the flu shot from the Health Department or your primary care physician.

My grandmother, my aunt and my mother all died of breast cancer. Am I at risk for breast cancer and what should I do to protect myself from this condition?

You are at great risk. You need to monitor your health to detect any possible signs of breast cancer as early as possible. Learn to do monthly self-exams of your breast, and get an annual clinical breast exam by your doctor and an annual mammogram. Medicare pays for annual screening mammograms.

I recently found out that I have diabetes but I do not know much about the disease. Can you give me some tips on how to control my diabetes?

The first step is to talk with your physician about your diabetes and your treatment options. VIMI encourages Medicare beneficiaries to become well informed partners with their doctors in their health care. However, there are several steps you can take to control your diabetes:

  • Test your own blood sugar daily.
  • Get a test called a hemoglobin A1C at a clinic or hospital at least twice a year.
  • See a nutritionist or dietician. Eat the right foods and exercise daily.
  • Take the prescribed medicine to keep your blood sugar under control.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, get anti-smoking counseling.
  • Get a foot exam every year by your doctor or podiatrist.
  • Get an annual eye exam by an opthalmologist (eye doctor).
  • Get a flu shot EVERY year.

My husband recently complained of a squeezing pain in the center of his chest and shortness of breath. Could these be symptoms of something dangerous?

Yes. The symptoms you described are warning signs of a heart attack. Call 911 immediatelyand take an aspirin! It is very important that you know and recognize the symptoms of a heart attack. They are:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness or squeezing pain in the center of the chest
  • Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of Breath

My mother has lost her Medicare (red, white and blue) card. What should she do to replace her lost card?

The Social Security Administration will provide all information on enrolling in the Medicare Program and will replace lost or stolen Medicare cards.

St. Thomas / St. John

  • Call (340)714-0136.
  • The office is located in Nisky Shopping Center.

St. Croix

  • Call (340)778-5946.
  • The office is located in Sunny Isle Shopping Center.


  • Call the toll free number for Social Security (800)772-1213
  • Visit the Social Security Administration's web site.

I am a Medicare beneficiary, but I am not sure what the Medicare Program covers or does not cover. Can I get information that will explain this?

The Social Security Administration office in either St. Croix or St. Thomas can provide you with a free copy of the publication "Medicare and You." This publication will explain your Medicare benefits. You can also call the toll free number (800)772-1213, or the VIMI Beneficiary hotline at (340) 712-2444. You can also visit the Social Security Administration's web site.

I do not think that I am getting the proper medical treatment for my problem. What should I do?

First, discuss your medical problem and your treatment options with your physician. VIMI encourages a true partnership between beneficiaries and their physicians and care givers. If you still are not satisfied, please call VIMI Beneficiary hotline at (340)712-2444.

I would like to invite a speaker to speak to my church study group on the dangers of a stroke. Can someone from VIMI speak on that subject?

Yes, VIMI is available to present to not only faith communities but civic organizations, health care providers, seniors centers, physicians, nurses, students, speciality associations and any other group or agency. VIMI can present the latest health information on Acute Myocardial Infarction, Breast Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Failure, Influenza/Pneumonia, and Stroke/Atrial Fibrillation. To arrange a presentation, please call VIMI at (340)712-2400.

Questions from the Physician

I have a very busy medical practice. How can VIMI help me keep abreast of advance information and changes in my field?

VIMI participates in national clinical projects and has access to the latest expertise, performance guidelines and standards. VIMI disseminates the latest standards through Continuing Medical Education (CME) Seminars, the "Virgin Islands Medical Society" general meetings and through special focus or study groups. Findings and recommendations from internal project activities and studies also are publicized through VIMI’s web site.

How can I get my Medicare patients to become more involved in their own health care?

VIMI’s Consumer Representatives have helped to develop printed publications on this subject. This representative group includes Medicare beneficiaries, government agency staff, and representatives of the health insurance industry and AARP. VIMI publishes the "Quality Healthcare TIPs," a quarterly newsletter, that contains useful tips for providers to engage patients more effectively.

Is VIMI concerned only with the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries?

No, VIMI has a contract with the Federal Government to monitor the quality of health care for Medicare beneficiaries but we are genuinely interested in improving the health care delivery system for all Virgin Islands residents and visitors. VIMI links its quality improvement activities to our hospitals, health department, nursing homes, home health agencies, your offices and other agencies to improve the health delivery system.

Does VIMI have speakers that provide updated information on different issues in the medical field, to health care personnel including nurses, nurse aids, nurse practitioners, emergency medical technicians and other specialized providers?

Yes, VIMI can present the latest health information on Urinary and Vascular Catheter Care, Hospital Acquired Infection Reduction, Breast and Colorectal Cancer Prevention, Falls Prevention, Influenza/Pneumonia, and Cardiovascular Health Improvement through Continuing Medical Education (CME) Seminars or general presentations. We also provide information pertinent to Nursing homes, home health agencies, physician and hospital related projects, and physician quality reporting.

To arrange a presentation, please call VIMI at (340)712-2400.

How can I get copies of VIMI’s “Quality Healthcare TIPs”?

You may call our office at (340)712-2400, or e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and request the amount needed. We will arrange to either drop the package off or mail it to you. The are also available on our website.