MAY PEN, Clarendon — Councillor for the Hayes Division, Scean Barnswell (PNP) has expressed doubt in this parish's May Pen and Lionel Town hospitals' ability to take on the additional patient load by the time the fourth wave of the pandemic reaches its peak. He is particularly concerned that there is only one ventilator available.
However, the local health official has assured that there is no need for concern about the availability of ventilators at this time.
“With the fourth wave of the pandemic [as a result of] a raging Omicron variant, we have seen persons who are double vaxxed turn up at health facilities with the virus. Luckily, it's not as aggressive as the Delta [variant] or else our hospital space would have been overrun by now. Sad to say that after we have made so much gain to bring down the positivity rate to single digits, we have seen it shoot past 60 per cent recently,” Barnswell said.
He theorised, without citing any data to back up his claim, that Grand Market festivities over Christmas had contributed to the increasing numbers.
“We have not yet seen the figures for new year's activities. There were small parties here and there but we will start to see these manifesting in the next couple of weeks. We just have to keep encouraging our health-care workers because they are the ones who are being [most] exposed to the virus,” he said.
He was speaking at the monthly meeting of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation where he is minority leader. In questioning the health report tabled by medical officer of health for the parish, Dr Kimberly Scarlett-Campbell, Barnswell asked how many ventilators were available.
“In the report you mentioned that one ventilator was at the May Pen Hospital and none at Lionel Town. You also listed the overall capacity at each facility. But what is of concern to me is how many ventilators are in the parish in total. And why isn't there one in Lionel Town?” he asked.
Dr Scarlett-Campbell explained that there is space to accommodate an additional ventilator in the isolation ward at the May Pen Hospital if needed.
“We do have that additional ventilator at the Mandeville Hospital and there is no one on the ventilator at May Pen at this time, which is very good. So, we do have space for more but there is no need at this time,” she reassured.