UHWI COVID-19 ward full

UHWI COVID-19 ward full

Hospital making arrangements to accommodate other coronavirus patients

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, August 27, 2020

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AS the number of novel coronavirus cases across the island continues on an upward trajectory, one major hospital is reporting that it has reached maximum bed capacity for patients and is now moving to make arrangements to create additional space.

The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) confirmed yesterday that its COVID-19 ward, which can “safely accommodate” 17 patients, is now full, but has denied claims by a caller to the Jamaica Observer newsroom that two COVID-19 patients there were being housed alongside other patients on another ward.

The hospital emphasised that it operates strictly under the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Therefore, the UHWI would not place a COVID-positive patient with a non-COVID patient on a ward. Furthermore, UHWI takes the necessary steps to ensure that the standard testing procedures are adhered to. Ensuring that patients are tested out of an abundance of caution before placing them on a ward, we test even emergency admissions to pick up on patients who may have COVID-19. We [also] advise staff members to be responsible in how they disseminate false information as this only creates panic among the public,” the hospital's Public Relations and Communications Manager Nordia Francis told the Observer.

In the meantime, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton explained that both the UHWI and the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) are facing similar challenges, but for different reasons, particularly KPH, where eight health care workers have tested positive for the virus.

“UHWI has a fair [share] of demand on the system, not just COVID- related but demands for other services, and those have affected the whole capacity of the hospital. They are making some provisions to create additional space. The KPH challenge is as a result of the positive cases that were discovered there, and the fact that part of the contact tracing is to identify persons who would have come in contact with those cases. It involves some quarantining of persons who otherwise would have been working, so it has affected the human resource capacity. They are two different reasons but they have had a similar impact,” he said.

Dr Tufton stressed, however, that only about a quarter of the COVID-19 patient beds in the islandwide public health care system are now occupied.

“For the rest of the country, we still have excess capacity for COVID-19 beds; we have between 70 and 75 per cent of bed capacity,” he stressed.

At St Joseph's Hospital in Vineyard Town, St Andrew, seven of 11 designated isolation beds are now occupied, the health ministry said.

“It [statistics] does show an increase in the number of beds being occupied, but it is certainly a far way from any assumption or perception that the COVID beds have been exhausted. We still have sufficient capacity,” Dr Tufton told a press conference Sunday during which he updated the nation on the status of COVID-19 cases, including recoveries.

The minister said the Government was still pursuing the setting up of a temporary field hospital for COVID-19 patients, although the proposal to use the National Arena is now off the table.

“We have looked at two sites and are now engaged in some conversations around those sites, as well as talking to a bilateral partner with the possibility of bringing in a [mobile] field hospital,” he explained.

On Tuesday the ministry reported that the country recorded 120 new COVID-19 cases, the largest number of confirmed cases in a day, bringing the total to 1,732. This included three critically ill individuals. There were also three more deaths.


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