CRH official expresses concern over uptick in COVID and gunshot wound cases

Observer West writer

Thursday, December 03, 2020

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MOUNT SALEM, St James -Delroy Fray, the clinical coordinator for the State-run Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James, has expressed concern over the increase in COVID-19 and gunshot wound cases that are turning up for treatment at the Type A facility.

Dr Fray disclosed that over the past month, there has been a gradual increase in COVID-19 patient admissions, adding that gunshot wound cases in November have surpassed that of the corresponding period last year.

“COVID is on the increase this side and I know that there has been some increase in gun things around here. And the truth is, we don't want to have to contend with that when we are dealing with this [coronavirus] pandemic. It would be nice not to have that,” Dr Fray stressed.

Last Thursday, regional technical director at the Western Regional Health Authority, Dr Dianne Stennett Campbell, disclosed during the Ministry of Health and Wellness' weekly digital press conference held at the S Hotel in Montego Bay, that the western parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

“In terms of what we're seeing, there is a slight increase in terms of our seven-day moving average number of cases. So, we were coming down nicely [in October] and now we're seeing an increase since November; this last week (week of November 22) especially,” said Dr Stennett Campbell.

Up to Tuesday, St James accounted for 1,114 of the country's 10,864 cases recorded since March, while Westmoreland recorded 407 cases; Trelawny, 255 and Hanover, 227.

Between November 6 and 30, the parish of St James recorded 180 additional cases of the virus, Westmoreland 129, Trelawny 74 and Hanover with 67.

Also in November, more than 20 gunshot wound cases were admitted at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, when compared to 18 in the same month last year.

The figures represent only gunshot wound victims who received treatment at the hospital, and not those who died before reaching the facility.

“That is significant. It is almost like one a day, if you all look at it that way,” Dr Fray emphasised.

The clinical coordinator was quick to point out, however, that “the innovative and readjusting efforts of the hospital's staff” have allowed the institution to cope with the increase.

“We are coping and we are coping because we are innovative in how we address each issue,” stated Dr Fray, adding that wards had to be created for COVID-19 patients.

For his part, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has condemned acts of crime and violence which, he said, are putting a strain on public health resources.

“We certainly join in expressing our concern and condemnation to any act of crime or violence and I know the Government through the Minister of National Security [Dr Horace Chang] and his team are doing the best they can, but I think all of Jamaica has a role to play and during this season more so, we need to reject any act of violence,” the health minister stated.

Dr Tufton was responding to a question from a member of the media in St James recently.

The minister was asked if he is concerned about the spike in murders and how it will impact the health system's response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Tufton argued that every Jamaican should be concerned, as he condemned “acts of crime and criminality in our society which is making the job of health care workers difficult.”

“It certainly makes the job of public health more difficult because cases are of trauma, whether a gunshot wound, blunt instrument wounds or otherwise, do require hospital time, surgery time and accident and emergency time,” he argued.

Dr Tufton noted that while the health care system is staffed, many health personnel are experiencing fatigue from working during the pandemic over the past eight months.

“Staffing is in place, but there's always the challenge of the fatigue that our staff has been going through. Public health workers, front line workers, even some of the other front line workers such as the police and so on, have had a rough eight months dealing with the COVID pandemic, and as a consequence, there's no doubt that many people are tired, many people are burnt out,” asserted the minister.

“We announced a wellness programme for staff recently to try and bring some breaks and I will bring in additional staff on board, but I believe they are committed and I believe that they are going to do what is necessary.”

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