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Capability of Respiratory Hospital Questioned as COVID Cases Spiral

By Reginald Andrew

HEALTH authorities are adamant that the island’s Respiratory Hospital is capable of catering to the needs of Covid-19 patients even after a sudden spiral increase of cases, lately.

Over the past week, the health officials have reported a spiral increase of cases on island, with the biggest surge of 13 cases recorded on November, 2; while the tally currently stands at 110 covid-19 related cases.

At a press briefing, on Wednesday, health officials updated journalists on the current status of operations at the Respiratory Hospital and plans for further upgrading of the facility with requisite equipment, staff modifications and medication to be better able to treat patients in their care.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Benson Emille provided an overview on the ‘health background’ and work put into the establishment of the Respiratory clinic. The former Victoria Hospital was renovated and retrofitted to accommodate the respiratory clinic in the midst of the prevalent covid-19 pandemic.

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“We had to transfer the operations from Victoria Hospital to the OKEU Hospital unit to facilitate renovations and retrofitting of Victoria Hospital to serve the purpose of caring for persons with respiratory diseases, but more specifically …for the covid-19 virus,” explained Emille.

He added: “The facilities upon full completion and operating at full capacity will be able to accommodate a 126-bed capacity, and as it stands now we are operating at two-thirds capacity.”

Emille said the authorities have forwarded a proposal to the World Bank (WB) seeking funds to assist with getting the respiratory clinic to operate at full capacity.

He said the World Bank funding would also assist with the provision of additional equipment, such as respirators and other apparatus to cater for the needs of Covid-19 patients. “The submission is before the World Bank and we would expect approval or some response before the end of this week,” Demille disclosed. “We are already in discussion with the contractor, so as soon as approval is granted work will commence on the next component to get the facility to operate at full capacity.”

The Respiratory Hospital currently operates at an 82-bed capacity which is in keeping with the WB’s component of a 44-bed ratio, he added.

Executive Director at the Owen King European Union (OKEU) Hospital, Nancy Francis, reiterated that though the respiratory clinic is not yet fully equipped it is functional and quite capable of providing medical treatment for covid-19 patients.

Taking into account the recent spiral increase in covid-19 cases, Emille said that in case of a “general outbreak” the respiratory clinic would adjust and “the admissions policy would have to change.” He said that currently the clinic admits patients diagnosed with covid-19, but should the situation of an outbreak arise “we would have to consider the hospital only admitting persons who require intensive care as a result of the complications of the virus.”

Dr. Alisha Eugene-Forde, Medical Director at the OKEU Hospital explained that there were specific regulations outlined to accommodate patients, with set practices in place for their general well-being, medical and nutritional welfare.

“We have a drop-off service available three times a day, service will be from 7.00a.m., 12 noon and 3.00p.m. and within 30 minutes of dropping off the item we will get the item to the ward and delivered to the patient,” she said. “We also have a list of suggested items for the patient from the ‘care package’ …that would include two (2) weeks of clothing, toiletries and toilet paper, cutlery , utensils , drinking water , tea, milk and sugar, cloth wash rags, body lotion cream mosquito repellant , hand sanitizer, snacks, plastic bag and if necessary prescribed medication , sanitary napkins , crutches and cane.”

The medical director further explained that clinical management of the capacity at the Respiratory Hospital is applied to meet the needs of different categories of patients; where suspect patients are separated from positive cases.

Health officials also assist patients with their nutritional needs with a nutrition and her team on board. She added: “Depending on the dietary needs of the patient a special diet is given. In addition to providing special dietary diet that is needed for the patient we have also opened the kitchen at the Respiratory Hospital.”

Dr. Eugene-Forde said now that the kitchen has been opened at the facility it is easier to cater for the patients, from where it previously posed a challenge having to transport food from the OKEU Hospital. In addition, the kitchen staff is made aware of the timeliness in providing patients with their meals at a schedule time daily.

The human resource control factor is applied to monitor staff capacity at the unit, and generally to activate and increase human resource capacity at the Respiratory Hospital. Also, protective equipment –PPE is provided to staffers and they are encouraged to adhere to the strict regulations in place.

Permanent Secretary Demille sent out a strong message urging the public to collaborate and comply with the authorities by adhering to regulations to make the task of the limited number of staffers at the hospital more manageable as they strive to provide the public with quality care.

He asserted: “Policy is established to make an assessment and plan …to put the information out there to the general public so that they can cooperate with the guidelines and protocols which are put in place, so that we jointly can survive and succeed in our battle against covid-19.”

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