Will we have staff to cope? 130 health workers on the front lines as cases continue to rise

MINISTER of Health and Welfare Dr Michael Darville. Photo: Donavan McIntosh / Tribune Staff


Principal journalist of the Tribune

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HEALTH Minister Dr Michael Darville said about 130 healthcare professionals are out of the system due to COVID-19, including 100 in New Providence and 30 in Grand Bahama.

His comment comes as the country recorded 315 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday with a 45% positivity rate.

He said if there was enough space for hospital beds, the challenge now is to ensure a sufficient workforce to staff these services.

“As it is, in New Providence there are a little over 100 medical professionals and there (there are) about 30 until my last count in Grand Bahama at the Rand Memorial Hospital,” Dr Darville said.

“We are working at all levels to bring in health professionals in public health to ensure that our major hospitals are functioning and functioning properly so that if there is a further increase we can cope.”

The number of hospitalizations is rising steadily and stood at 58 on Monday, far more than in early December when just 18 people were hospitalized with the virus. However, only three people are in the intensive care unit, suggesting that manifestations of the disease continue to be less severe than in previous waves.

Dr Darville said authorities are still trying to determine how many people are in hospital because of COVID-19 compared to how many people are there for other health reasons even though they have the virus. .

“Our meeting this morning confirmed that there are around 55 people at Princess Margaret Hospital who are COVID positive,” he said before heading to a Cabinet meeting. He spoke to reporters before the health ministry released the January 3 scorecard, which showed 58 cases of hospitalization.

“Of the 55, it is difficult to differentiate those who may be COVID positive with symptoms of COVID or whether or not they are COVID positive with other complications in the hospital. It’s a cross section and we’re trying to get the exact number.

“We are able to provide essential services. In our old unit we had admissions and we are opening more tents but I have to admit that due to the exposure of some of our staff some of the essential services had to be cut back and even though we have enough of space for beds, we are now in the process of restructuring to ensure that we find staff where those who have been admitted can enter these particular departments. “

Dr Darville also defended the government’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The government is doing everything we can with this situation,” he said. “When we look at what’s going on in the world, every country is having difficulty controlling this new Omicron variant. It is very important that the Bahamian people realize that they have a role to play. We need to apply the proper protocols.

He reiterated that the government will recruit additional doctors and up to 50 nurses. He said free tests were due to start at vaccination sites yesterday.

“During the holiday weekend there were some gatherings that worried us and they can potentially be super spreaders,” he said. “We are monitoring the number of cases and we have done an excessive amount of testing. What concerns us is that the percentage of tests provided is higher than expected indicating that the disease burden is relatively high in the country and we are now preparing to ensure that we have protocols in place. adequate health care so that if there is an increase that could take place with hospital admissions, we are in a better position to deal with it. “

Last week, the government denied entry of an MSC cruise ship to its own private island due to the number of positive cases on board.

“Our job,” said Dr Darville, “is to try to balance the economy while dealing with the viral load in the country and so we are looking very closely and multiple discussions have taken place throughout. weekend on how best to adapt cruise ships and minimize the burden of disease on board crews These discussions are still ongoing, not yet fully finalized.

Dr Darville said the decision to deny entry to ships “is still linked to the disease burden”.

“If we believe that a ship has too many positive cases on board, it is the responsibility of the Department of Health to protect the welfare of the people of the Bahamas and to try to find that balance where we are able. to guarantee and have confidence that the cases that are on board the ship have the capacity to be isolated and put up for auction and when we think that is not possible, we have to make these kind of difficult decisions ”, a he declared.

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