By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
BIMINI residents are concerned about a possible spread of the COVID-19 virus on the island after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis cofnirmed the Bimini woman who died in New Providence Monday night tested positive for the disease.
One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Tribune she is concerned about the amount of medical supplies on Bimini and the level of response to get people proper medical care if more COVID cases were to arise.
“My concern is that there is no proper protocol when it comes down to the medical attention. They don’t have any tests (on the island),” she said.
“What’s happening now is that the virus (probably) has already spread on this island because of the contact they had with people. The family owned a restaurant and that didn’t close until she died.
“So, people going there might’ve communicated with her family and so it might’ve been more people exposed than you really think.”
Her comments came minutes after Dr Minnis revealed six additional cases of COVID-19 in New Providence, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 21.
During his address yesterday, Dr Minnis also confirmed that 57-year-old Kim Johnson-Rolle from Bimini, who died in Nassau on Monday night, tested positive for the highly infectious disease.
According to a relative, Mrs Johnson-Rolle, who travelled to Florida two weeks ago, complained of having chest pains early this week and went to the Bimini clinic.
The family was informed that Mrs Johnson-Rolle was having issues with oxygen intake and would need to be airlifted to Nassau for further medical treatment.
However, she died Monday shortly after arriving in New Providence, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands told reporters on Tuesday.
Bimini residents, speaking to The Tribune said the death has left the tight-knitted community in shock.
“We was in the same church. We all grow up together. It’s a terrible blow and it was sad that they took so long to get her out of here,” said Lyle Saunders from Bailey Town.
Mrs Johnson-Rolle’s daughter, Kotekennya Rolle-Edgecombe said on Facebook: “I'm still in shock and my heart feels crushed… Words will never be able to express my love for you, and how much I will miss you.
“My heart is shattered. But some of your last words to me was ‘just pray Kotes’. I will teach my children like you taught me to pray and trust God.”
A relative has said it took more than 24 hours to organize an emergency flight off the island. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force ultimately airlifted the patient along with a medical team.
Asked by reporters yesterday about “what went wrong” in Bimini, Dr Minnis replied the matter was under investigation. After Mrs Johnson-Rolle’s death, residents on the island are calling for the government to implement new measures where those in need of medical attention on the Family Islands can be airlifted to the capital faster.
Pastor Dexter Rolle of Bimini, said: “I don’t know what the logistics are pertaining to the islands having their own medical people and equipment (but) The Bahamas is pretty big and I think we have a lot of professionals but that’s a question I would like to have answered on why is it that the islands can’t be on par with Nassau and Freeport.
“This 2020 now and when we look at places in the United States, you go in one state and everything is basically the same.”
Dr Sands has said “every effort” was made by officials to get Mrs Johnson-Rolle the required medical care.
Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet on Tuesday, he said: “I’ve had questions asked about the availability of ventilators on the Family Islands. (But) it’s very important to understand that a ventilator in the wrong hands is a dangerous tool.
“And a ventilator, if you put a breathing tube in somebody’s earway, COVID, which is ordinarily spread through a droplet will become aerosolized and you have the attention of infecting or contaminating everybody in the room.”
He continued: “We do not have intensive care units in Acklins, Crooked Island, Bimini, Long Island etc, nor are we likely in the foreseeable future to have intensive care units.
“So, as we look seriously at the rollout of our national response to COVID, I think we have to be honest, I think we have to be direct with the Bahamian public to help them understand the implications.”
“This is not about machines. This is about the holistic ability to provide competent, intensive care support to critically care patients and that could only be done in Grand Bahama and Nassau.”