George Wright goes home!
Westmoreland Central MP discharged from hospital after batting COVID-19, relates scary experienceThursday, September 02, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — “It scared the hell out of me,” stressed Westmoreland Central Member of Parliament George Wright in an exclusive interview with the Jamaica Observer Westearlier this week following his release from the Falmouth Field Hospital in Trelawny, where he battled the novel coronavirus for almost two weeks.
During his time at the State-run facility, constructed specifically to house COVID-19 patients, Wright said he witnessed scenes of several people dying on the ward due to complications from the virus.
Wright's common-law wife Tannisha Singh had also tested positive for the respiratory disease and was admitted at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover. She was reportedly released from that medical facility on Monday.
“After I saw people dying around me, I wondered if I would be next. I felt very much sorry for them,” Wright told Jamaica Observer West on Monday, a day after he was discharged from hospital.
“I lost all my appetite, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I felt pain, and trust me...this was my first experience in that type of situation and it scared the hell out of me. [But] I never gave up.”
To compound matters, even as he saw dead bodies being wheeled out of the ward as well as COVID-19 patients — including himself — struggling to breathe, the first-time MP, who is also a businessman, was bombarded with news coming from outside, about the deaths of friends who contracted the virus.
“When I was in the hospital, I learnt of a lot of friends...of persons who I know personally, who passed on. It was terrible,” he shared.
Another hurdle he had to clear while at the facility was to fend off the many false reports of COVID-19-related deaths that were coming to his attention. At one point, he said, one of the rumours swirlling around was that his partner had succumbed to the illness at hospital.
“Believe you me, while I was there [at the hospital], I tried to block myself from all rumours. I heard the rumour that myself and my lady [Singh] passed and I said, 'I rebuke them in the name of Jesus!' But I guess because there were a number of couples that I know who passed, businessmen as well, probably they confused me with that,” he contended.
Wright was full of praise for the medical staff at Falmouth, who he noted, are very hard-working and worked around the clock, as he downplayed any notion of receiving privileged treatment because of his parliamentarian status.
“The only thing I could say is I commend the hard-working doctors and nurses and the auxiliary staff. I didn't really get any preferential treatment, but they worked right through the day and night. In fact, at some point in time I wonder if they really see me because they always pass me and ensure that the others are taken care of. Sometimes I wonder if it is because they (other patients) are probably in a worse situation than me. So I didn't really feel any way. But trust me, they work hard. They really work hard,” he explained, responding to queries from the Observer West.
He also expressed high commendation for the doctor who, he said, upon realising the seriousness of his illness, promptly arranged a private ambulance to whisk him from his home in Westmoreland to the Falmouth hospital.
“I must commend a certain doctor who called in the morning. The Tuesday before I went in, a certain doctor called me and said, 'George, I heard that you are sick'…and that doctor called a private ambulance and made arrangements for me to go to Falmouth. Trust me, that doctor is my icon right now,” he declared.
Wright stressed that he has left hospital with invaluable COVID-19 prevention and control measures.
“I learnt some things while I was there [at the hospital], even though you are in the hospital and you wear your mask, ever so often you need to change that mask because it could be a case where it is contaminated as well. So you have to, maybe every three or four hours, change your mask,” said Wright, citing an example.
“And sanitising, trust me, it works because when I came out of the hospital I ensured that they sanitised even my shoes bottom, my clothes…in fact, I left most of my clothes and those that I brought home l didn't take them inside the house. I am also going to get one of those persons who do sanitising to come and sanitise my entire house.”
Wright, who won the Westmoreland Central seat on a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) ticket in the last general election, earlier this year resigned from the party and is now an independent Member of Parliament.
He came under public pressure to resign after a video showing a man beating a woman with his hands and a stool went viral in April.
He explained that from as early as May he was registered to be vaccinated but that plan got derailed “because of the scenario that was taking place at the time”.
“I learnt of the importance of the vaccination and I said to myself I have to be an example, but because of the circumstances I did not follow through,” he conceded.
He added that his partner was not vaccinated either.
“She (Singh) wasn't vaccinated but thank God she is coming out today (Monday),” Wright stressed.
The Westmoreland Central MP, however, has vowed to get vaccinated “as soon as possible” and is urging everyone to stop listening to the anti-vaccination theories being promoted in some quarters.
“I want to encourage every Westmorelite, especially those of my constituency, in fact, Jamaica at large, to ensure that they go and take the vaccine. This is a life and death situation. Stop listening to rumours. There are a lot of rumours out there and it really bothers me because sometimes it is hard to get the people to understand the seriousness of this coronavirus and how great the vaccine can be to them,” Wright argued.
Meanwhile, Bishop Oniel Russell, head of Ark of the Covenant Holy Trinity Church in Savanna-la-Mar, expressed his relief that the Member of Parliament is out of hospital.
“I prayed for him and spoke to him personally because it wasn't an easy task for him. I am happy that he is out and this is a lesson for him also because sometimes for leaders to be able to speak, and speak convincingly, they have to go through some things. He has been there,” said Russell, who is a close friend of Wright.
“I am just encouraging everybody to go out and get vaccinated. Don't follow any rumour, protect yourself, protect your own health. I am fully vaccinated and I am okay”.
According to Dr Delroy Fray, clinical coordinator for the Western Regional Health Authority, 99 per cent of patients admitted in the four public hospitals in the region over the last three weeks were not vaccinated.
“Of all the patients...hospitalised [with COVID], 99 per cent of them were not vaccinated.
So the COVID-19 deaths are predominately unvaccinated so far,” Dr Fray told the Jamaica Observer earlier this week.
According to Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, roughly 520,000 vaccines have been administered to Jamaicans since the island's vaccination against COVID-19 programme started in March.
He says the Goverment has set itself a target of about 750,000 vaccinations by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Wellness reported that the island recorded 351 new COVID-19 cases and 31 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the infection total to 68,482 and virus death toll to 1,549.