COVID-19 patients report better treatment after Observer article

COVID-19 patients report better treatment after Observer article

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 12, 2020

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PATIENTS being monitored for COVID-19 at The University of the West Indies' 138 Student Living are reporting improvements in the treatment they are receiving at the Government isolation facility.

“They started to issue out the results. We even have doctors here on property now and persons are already on their way home at the moment. Tomorrow, another set will be going home as well,” said one of the patients whom the Jamaica Observer had previously interviewed.

He is a crew member from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Adventure of the Seas.

This was backed up by a second patient who said that Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) officials are now treating them with care.

“They starting to act like they care. Even the results for the test we took on Tuesday they start calling and giving results already. We really appreciate the article,” said the patient, who is a Norwegian cruise line crew member.

The cruise ship worker was referring to yesterday's Observer lead story highlighting the concerns of the patients.

A third patient has also reported improvement in operations at the facility.

“They start to make movement now since the publication. I don't get back mine [result] yet, but I am still waiting. They stated that they are sorting out the data,” the patient, who is an Alorica Call Centre worker, told the Observer.

Yesterday, the Observer reported that the patients were accusing MOHW officials of mismanaging their results, triggering unrest among the group of people.

The Observer had interviewed seven of the patients, all of whom were reportedly transferred from Grand Bahia Principe hotel in St Ann because the MOHW's contract with the hotel had expired.

Word of the expiration of the contract is included in an MOHW circular distributed to the patients, a copy of which the Observer obtained. It indicated that, as a result, they would be moved to an isolation or health facility located within the health region in which they reside.

It further said that if the patient has received two consecutive negative COVID-19 test results, that patient would be discharged; patients whose last COVID-19 test results were negative would be sent home to complete their isolation period; and patients who tested positive for the virus would remain in a State facility.

However, the patients, who had asked not to be identified, told the Observer a different story and insisted that there was a major foul-up with test results, causing their time at the facility to be extended.

They also stated that not only had MOHW officials disregarded the information outlined in the circular, but they tested them several times within the past two weeks without informing them of their results.

Yesterday, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said that the ministry did 105 discharge samples in the last day.

He said patients who received negative results were sent home and those who received positive results will remain in isolation for a next four to five days before they are tested again.

In responding to the Observer's front-page article, Tufton said that he would ensure that there is improvement in terms of communication.

He said, as it relates to the concerns raised by the patients regarding testing foul-ups there might be “some ambiguity or maybe lack of understanding or misunderstanding around the protocols”.

Tufton said that samples are taken at care sites and transported to the National Public Health Laboratory in Kingston and that lab operations occur throughout the 24-hour period, as part of the ministry's COVID-19 response, with testing done in batches.

“At the current volume of samples received and scheduling of staff, results are returned in about 24 to 36 hours. However, and it's important to note, this period may be lengthened on occasions for a variety of reasons, including a delay in the transportation of samples; samples held as more processing is required or retesting is required as aliquot from the sample was compromised or for which an invalid report was generated based on machine issues,” said Tufton.

In the same breath, he said patients are not given a printed copy of their results because most testing is being done for surveillance purposes and results are provided in line listing format. He said where testing is done for diagnostic purposes, results are prepared for issuance to the attending clinician and placed in the individual's files. He also said that as soon as results become available they are communicated to the patients verbally.

Copies of the results, the minister said, may be obtained on request for medical records, or part thereof using established procedure.

Speaking to the circumstances under which a patient is released, he said they must return two negative results.

He did not address the ministry's circular issued to the patients indicating that after they receive their first negative test they would be sent home to complete their isolation.


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