By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
MORE than 20 people were evacuated from Abaco and brought to Princess Margaret Hospital in New Providence with wide ranging injuries following Hurricane Dorian’s passage.
While Health Minister Dr Duane Sands initially placed the number at 21, the Public Hospitals Authority said 24 adults and children have been received by PMH.
He also gave an update on the Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama, which was compromised by flooding and is not presently able to provide medical services.
Dr Sands said some of the Abaco evacuees have “very serious injuries, some requiring emergency neurosurgery, brain surgery.”
He added: “We have had lacerations (and) partial amputations. We have had a number of broken bones and so a number of people have been injured.
“The most critically ill patients have already been evacuated and we owe an incredible debt of gratitude to the people and the government of the Unite States of America.”
PMH activated its virtual ward to receive the evacuees, as part of its mass casualty and natural disaster plan, PHA said in a press statement yesterday.
“As of 2pm Tuesday, 24 persons were received by the Emergency Department from Abaco,” the statement read.
“Eleven persons including three children have been admitted to hospital. The others have been treated and discharged or are awaiting discharge from the Emergency Department.”
The virtual ward is a mechanism for providing access to care for patients, PHA said, adding it is comprised of the systems and staffing of a hospital ward, in the absence of a dedicated hospital ward space.
Dr Sands said there are still people needing help.
“Bear in mind that we have persons in Abaco who are dialysis patients who have not been able to be dialyzed. They would not have been dialyzed since about Friday and so now their situation although not an injury is urgent if not critical.
“So those individuals now have to be brought into New Providence in order to be dialyzed. We expect that as people are able to navigate the roads and get in to more remote locations that we will discover other injured persons and heaven forbid perhaps other casualties.”
Meanwhile, officials are still waiting to get a clear picture of what the situation is like at RMH in Grand Bahama.
“So the Rand Memorial Hospital is unusable as a medical facility at this point,” Dr Sands said. “I am pleased to say that as of this morning I’ve communicated - we have just over 300 people, patients (and) about 33 medical staff and also persons who would have come into the Rand seeking shelter.
“However the Rand has been flooded so at this point it is unable to provide medical services.”
The situation at RMH deteriorated as Hurricane Dorian hovered over Grand Bahama for about two days.
A Reddit user wrote several updates regarding her sister that was holed up at the facility. According to the post, the hospital’s power went out on Monday, the building was leaking and became surrounded by water.
“Outside is flooded. She says they have nowhere to put them and they moved the babies to a dry spot. If anyone can get word out. . .please help.
“Her final message was ‘I don’t want to die.’ I cannot cope right now.”
Later the Reddit user said the relative was able to communicate.
“Finally got through to my sister. She said they called the rescue lines and there is nowhere to put them. I am still going to keep calling the new number 359-4807. I’m just happy she is okay. She said the weather is getting worse and worse.
“The hospital is surrounded by. . .water and is getting flooded. They are trapped inside. I believe some people got evacuated - old people in wheelchairs. I think the newborns are still with the doctors. The vehicles are stalling and they have to rescue people on Jet Skis,” the Reddit user said.
Asked who was providing medical service in Grand Bahama, Dr Sands suggested there was no alternative.
“Bear in mind that we are in the midst of an actual storm and until such time as that storm passes people are not going to be able to get to a facility or get out of the facility without putting the lives of those individuals in danger.
“So at this point in time we are still in the middle of a hurricane.
“Unfortunately Dorian has stalled just north of Grand Bahama and this is creating a significant challenge because of rain, storm surge and winds,” Dr Sands said.