UHWI COVID-19 ward, Ministry

Letters to the Editor

UHWI COVID-19 ward, Ministry

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Beyond my wildest imagination, it happened that I was admitted to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) COVID-19 ward in the middle of November 2020. This remarkable experience moved me to use this medium to highlight my experience and commend the team of nurses, doctors, janitors, office personnel and, by extension, the Ministry of Health.

Prior to being transferred to UHWI I became very ill after developing respiratory issues as a known asthmatic and was rushed to a private hospital in St Andrew. There I was diagnosed to have a severe case of pneumonia and was subsequently admitted for treatment. A day after the doctor ordered that I get a COVID-19 test, which I thought was unnecessary because of all the extreme precautions I exercised since the pandemic started. I followed all the protocols because I knew of my underlying conditions. Furthermore, the week before, out of an abundance of caution, I got my flu shot.

Surprisingly, two days later, the doctor advised me that the test result came back positive. He admitted I was very ill but, based on the Government's protocol, I could not remain in that hospital and arrangements were already being made to have me transferred to UHWI.

I felt as though I just got a death sentence. My world had just ended.

I contacted my relatives and my sister came and settled my huge hospital bill. Eventually, an ambulance came to take me to UHWI. I went along because I was very ill and needed medical attention.

At UHWI I was ushered to a small room and was told to wait as a doctor will come to see me. It was a long wait, but the doctor eventually came and was very diligent and compassionate. He did a thorough examination and ran a number of tests — more than had been done at the private hospital. I was then taken to the dreaded COVID-19 ward.

It was noteworthy that all medical personnel who attended to me and who I saw were well outfitted from head to toe with their personal protective equipment. The nurse who came to escort me to the ward was very pleasant and helpful. I asked her what the ward was like and she detected my fear. Like a good therapist, she consoled and assured me that, despite the situation not being pleasant, I should remain calm and adapt to the environment and treatment, as it will help me get better quicker. It was a good thing that she gave me that pep talk, because it prepared me for what to expect. I remembered the advice on being calm and adaptable, so after praying I felt that calm.

I spent six days at UHWI wanting to go home. I became stable and was responding well to the treatment. Just observing the team of nurses, doctors, and janitors executing their duties was very impressive. They were professional and well-organised, even as they dealt with some patients who proved to be more challenging. We are all aware of the many challenges faced by the hospitals, yet the treatment I received was the very best. I needed oxygen, I needed to be nebulised, and they were made available to me. All the medication I needed, such as the high dosages of steroids and antibiotics, and injections were all made available to me. This level of care and medical attention may have cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars if I were still at the private hospital.

While on the ward, someone from the administration team called me very politely to confirm some personal data and find out my health card information. After providing the information, I enquired about the charge for treatment, but was told there was no charge because I was COVID-19-positive. I was deeply grateful. As a PAYE taxpayer in the 30 per cent category, for the first time I felt my high tax contribution was justified.

After much deliberation, the consultant doctor on the ward advised me that, since I remained stable and improving, they will release me to complete my treatment and quarantine at home, given that my home is suitable for isolation. I was relieved with the prospect of going home, but it got better. The doctor said, instead of a relative coming to pick me up, based on the risk, they will arrange for the hospital's ambulance to take me home. And they did! I was transported home with a nurse on-board, who took me and my bag straight to my room. While I was so happy to be home, I reflected on all that transpired, going near to death, but the public hospital helped saved my life. I was truly grateful!

After completing the mandatory quarantine period I visited my private doctor, who is a consultant pulmonologist and lecturer in medicine at The University of West Indies. He reviewed the transcript from UHWI COVID-19 ward outlining the treatment and medication administered to me while in hospital. He also examined me, then exclaimed, “They did a very good job on you, high marks for the medical team!”

I am moved to highlight this experience because we are well aware of the numerous challenges facing the health sector prior to the onset of COVID-19. Yet, the Ministry of Health is able to plan, coordinate, and execute in order to deliver such a world-class health care package to the citizens of Jamaica who are severely affected by this novel coronavirus pandemic.

I never thought this could happen to me, but I became a grateful benefactor.

My recovery process continues to go well and I have received my quarantine release letter from the Ministry of Health. I, too, give high marks to the medical team at UHWI COVID-19 ward and the Ministry of Health, and wish to say a big thank you for a good job!


St Andrew

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