Mandeville's COVID wards exceed capacity
Hospital says it is managing despite having 35 staff members in quarantineThursday, January 13, 2022
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester – Chief executive officer at the Mandeville Regional Hospital Alwyn Miller says the experience of three waves of the novel coronavirus pandemic has put the facility in a better position to cope with the ongoing fourth wave.
“At this point in time we are managing fairly well,” he told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday.
Miller said this was the case although the facility's two COVID-19 wards with 18 beds are now well in excess of capacity with 35 positive and 10 suspected cases.
The situation had become more challenging because 35 members of staff are in quarantine after contracting the virus or are showing symptoms, Miller said.
However, he told the Observer that the situation has not so far reached crisis proportions because of contingency measures, including proactive preparation to retrofitted additional spaces to accommodate COVID-19 patients.
“I wouldn't say it is severe at this point in time. If the numbers continue to grow both with patients and staff, then there would be a concern,” he said.
“I am hoping that the numbers, in terms of staff [in quarantine] will not grow much more and we will be able to have almost the full complement here at any point in time to help us to deliver care,” he added.
He said that in comparison to a few months ago during the third wave, the number of COVID-19 patients at the Mandeville Regional is relatively low.
“We have the experience of the last three waves, which puts us in a better position in terms of treating such patients… In the third wave, we had as high as almost 150 such patients in the hospital, so thankfully we are not at that level [now],” he said.
Miller said that once the COVID-19 bed capacity of 18 beds was exceeded, the hospital was forced to find ways and means to accommodate the additional demand. It was recognised by the hospital's management that in some cases some services would have to be “displaced somewhat”.
“At this point in time we are at that stage,” he said.
He explained that he and fellow managers are closely monitoring the need for any additional space for COVID-19 patients and would make any required adjustments as needed.
“… The area we are looking at accommodating any additional COVID patients will be the male and female medical wards… It means that for our non-COVID patients, we will have to shift to another space and that will potentially be the outpatient department,” he said.
The functions of the outpatient department were relocated to the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church last September, which is about 100 metres northeast of the hospital across Caledonia Road.
Miller thanked the SDA church for agreeing to extend the use of its grounds.
“We did make that request from December in preparation for the fourth wave, because we felt that it was coming. We had dialogue with the church and we are thankful that they have agreed to extend our lease arrangement to utilise the church for the outpatient department,” he said.
“It is not one where they are charging us any rental or lease, actually… The only thing that we are paying them for is light,” he added.
He is encouraging people who he said have become fatigued over COVID-19, not to “underestimate the impact of the Omicron variant”.
“There is still no room for people to be complacent and not follow medical advice as it relates to the protocols and vaccination,” he said.