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Pmh Staff Plea For Protection: Doctors And Nurses Beg For Equipment To Guard Against Covid

Staff outside of PMH on Tuesday.

Staff outside of PMH on Tuesday.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

WITH the situation at Princess Margaret Hospital at “a boiling point”, doctors and nurses yesterday called on health officials to implement the “necessary protocols” to better protect workers amid safety concerns at the hospital about the COVID-19 threat.

Their calls for more safety measures comes as the country continues to experience a surge of COVID-19 cases, with 715 cases on record up to press time and 14 related deaths. Thirty-six new cases were reported yesterday: 20 in New Providence, 11 in Grand Bahama, three in Bimini and two in the Berry Islands. 

Officials have said the recent surge of cases has started to strain the country’s health care system, with ICU beds already full. 

Speaking to reporters outside PMH yesterday morning, head of the Bahamas Doctors Union Dr Melisandre Bassett said some workers have been left compromised due to overcrowding at the Accident and Emergency Department at the medical facility.

This, she said, has increased COVID-19 fears among staff, who are concerned about potentially spreading the virus to their families.

“This morning, we are at a tipping point where our staff members have become compromised because of the overwhelming number of patients with suspected COVID symptoms presenting to A&E,” she said.

“As it stands, all of our isolation rooms are occupied and as you know, with the COVID-19 case, they should be in negative pressure rooms even under investigation until that can be ruled out.”

She continued: “Now with the hurricane, we would’ve lost four standalone rooms in the legacy unit. They have yet to be opened. We need those opened up and we need additional rooms and additional spaces to account for the number of patients that we are seeing on a daily basis.

“Now, our staff is concerned and being compromised because we have those patients under investigation on the floor. So today, they have removed themselves because of the risk to themselves and their families if they contract COVID-19.”

Dr Bassett also cited the need for more personal protective equipment to help assist in the ongoing fight against the pandemic.

“Now, when you have a patient that is intubated, that requires full PPEs,” she said. “We need to ensure that all of our staff, cleaning staff and doctors have the proper equipment for that level of exposure. So that’s our concern today.”

Describing the ordeal as “an emergency situation that needs to be addressed,” the union president called on the relevant health authorities to meet with union members to address their safety concerns.

Her comments come after union officials told reporters that some staff members at PMH had called in sick yesterday morning. When The Tribune visited the hospital yesterday, several doctors and nurses were seen sitting in a secluded area near the entrance of PMH.

However, Dr Basset maintained that workers were not demonstrating, but only waiting for their concerns to be heard and addressed.

She said: “We’re still here, we’re not leaving our jobs and this is not a walk out. This is not a sick out. We want to help the Bahamian people, but we have to do it safely and sensibly.

“We’re waiting for this situation to be rectified and until that happens you can’t ask anyone to put themselves in harm’s way without the necessary protocol and safety measure in place. That’s all we’re asking.”

It is not clear how many PMH workers are currently in quarantine due to potential COVID-19 exposure, with Dr Basset only telling reporters that numbers are changing daily.

“We have teams out, we have doctors who are out,” she said. “I don’t have a specific number because it’s changing every day. The situation is at a boiling point, a tipping point, it has erupted actually. More needs to be done to correct it. “

“…We have had a whole team of three or four persons out because of one patient exposure.”

According to Bahamas Nurses Union president Amancha Williams, some 16 nurses in Grand Bahama were placed under quarantine last week. Mrs Williams said the challenges experienced by healthcare workers in New Providence are similar to those in Grand Bahama.

“Freeport have this same challenge in A&E,” she said. “Their (foyer) is full of patients, they’re triaging.  . .it’s overwhelming because they have a shortage of nurses in Freeport.

“…I think about a week ago, there was 16 nurses (in) quarantine and six positives just for Grand Bahama. Here (in New Providence), we haven’t gotten a report, but we know that several nurses are quarantine and like we said in Nassau, we have not been testing.

“And the nurses here are saying ‘you’re putting me in harm’s way and you still don’t want to test me. You only want to test the patient. I work with the patient so test all of us.’”

Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) president Kimsley Ferguson also echoed similar concerns yesterday, calling for officials to put a plan in place to help workers safeguard against the virus.

He said: “There are some persons apart of our bargaining unit that are impacted by what is going on and we’re very very concerned because while there may appear to be one unit that is extremely significant, those persons that we do represent - patient care attendants, the actual patient relation persons….those that have to do the sanitising and so on and so forth.

“And we’re really concerned that there is no information disseminated to the various staff so they themselves can mitigate against the actual spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.”

Several calls were made to Health Minister Renward Wells but attempts to reach him were unsuccessful up to press time. Meanwhile, when contacted, an official at the Public Hospitals Authority said a statement would be released on the concerns.

Comments

Porcupine 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The top officials in the Bahamian government, those in charge of the Health Ministry, the PM, should admit their failure and do the decent thing: resign. The present situation is nothing less than a dereliction of duty, inadequate planning, and the willful endangering of Bahamian lives. The present situation is inexcusable, no matter what side of the aisle you stand on.

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

And to think all of this was predictable and likely preventable based on information that was available to Minnis and D'Aguilar well before they nevertheless prematurely reopened our borders to travellers from the US. Both Minnis and D'Aguilar allowed all of the deadly Covid-19 problems being experienced by the US to be imported to the Bahamas the moment they made their most foolish and harmful decision to re-open our borders on July 1. The fact that they did what they did with full knowledge of the great potential for our fragile healthcare system being quickly overwhelmed is tantamount to having committed homicide by gross dereliction of duty, especially in the case of Minnis as a medical doctor and holder of the minister of health cabinet post at the time of the most fateful decision.

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mandela 1 month, 3 weeks ago

We are in urgent need of an authority with a plan, we don't need to be running this country and playing anything by ear. PLAN. PLAN and PLAN SOME MORE. He who FAILS to PLAN, PLANS to FAIL. Our health workers should not be begging for anything at this time, we had 4mts prior to PLAN for this scenario, what the hell were you people doing in all this time except playing with yourselves?

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Honestman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

What has government been doing last few months???? We were on top of the virus with hardly any new infections. We should have been using this time to increase our testing capability, ICU provision etc. Instead we opened up to the USA with, it seems, no contingency plan in place for the inevitable resurgence. Now the very thing government was afraid of from the beginning - that our healthcare system would become overwhelmed - has now come to pass. Unbelievable!

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TalRussell 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Let’s do the easy arithmetic, apparently something the colony's Central Authority has been too afraid to run the numbers.
In the days and weeks ahead as the required COVID-19 hospitalisations climb so does the risk of a systemic healthcare failure,
We need to keep a watchful eye of any signs of a spike in positive cases coming out the Abaco's?
Such may not be so farfetched as to rule out whereby the
Central Authority is forced into the nationalisation** of the privately operated Doctors Hospital? Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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geostorm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

All of this is why the Bahamian public should have taken this virus seriously. We have very limited resources and terrible infrastructure. Dr Sands and his team stressed this at the beginning of this outbreak.

There could have been a balance between opening up the country and handling this disease. Many Bahamians just refused to listen. How hard was distancing your self by 6 ft, wearing a mask and practising proper hygiene. It's not rocket science. Just step outside you door and look at the number of people who selfishishly put others in danger. You can not blame the government for irresponsible people, unless you are some of the ones being irresponsible!!!

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Strongly suggest you stop carrying water for Minnis because you're now making nothing but a big fool of yourself. Plenty of sunlight has been shined on the very false narrative about the so called 'balancing act', not to mention the outrageous blaming of Bahamians by Minnis for problems rooted in his own foolish and stupid decisions. Many Bahamians may have a D- education, but they're certainly smart enough to sniff out that Minnis has zero leadership skills and is about as incompetent, deceitful and directionless as they come.

Having imperiled the lives of so many Bahamians, including our healthcare providers, both Minnis and D'Aguilar should have by now done the only honourable thing left for them to do: Resign with great remorse and shame.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

lol. Blame "Bahamians who can't listen" for the inadequate supplies for the hospital. What do you think will happen when the cruise lines and hotels begin operation? We can't forget that right before the border was opened there was a proud announcement that all quarantine facilities were closing. This tells you everything you need to know about any plans to mount a response to post border opening threats. The preparation has nothing to do with hard headed Bahamians

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proudloudandfnm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Time for the FNM to show loyalty to country and demand Minnis step down, if he refuses then vote no confidence and fire him. Minnis has to go, the man is utterly incompetent in every aspect of his job. He is an empty suit...

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Bobsyeruncle 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Unfortunately, Minnis stepping down, isn't going to fix the problem. Sure, ultimately the buck stops with him, but whoever fills his place is going to face the same problem(s). What we need is a plan that works, the problem is every country in the world is trying to find a plan that works but has so far failed.
Those countries that did well under the first wave of COVID, like New Zealand, South Korea, Australia, Japan, Sweden etc, and subsequently opened their borders, are now experiencing flare ups as they've started opening up. One of the worst hit countries was Spain. Eventually, after many deaths and recorded cases, they managed to get things under control. They recently re-opened their borders to tourists, but are now have major flare ups similar to The Bahamas.
Every leader, in every country, is in a lose/lose situation. Whether they open up or shut down, half the population will be crying for their heads if they go one route and the other half will do the same if they go the other route. Not a time to be the leader of any country IMO

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Sorry to hear you're looking to Minnis to lead us through this nightmare. And flabbergasted that you're apparently okay with the fatal decision Minnis made to prematurely reopen our borders in the midst of Covid-19 being ablaze in South Florida. Moreover, it seems you're also okay with any other major foolish decision Minnis may make because, as you put it, "every leader, in every country, is in a lose/lose situation." So what's your point? Are you trying to say every leader of every country is as arrogant, dumb, nasty, stubborn, incompetent, vindictive and directionless as Minnis? Or are you trying to say it doesn't matter who is the leader of a country today because they're all nothing but doppelgangers of Minnis, in which case it would not matter if the Bahamas were led by my 3 year old grandson?

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TalRussell 1 month, 3 weeks ago

In the lighter talkie show news meantime, does Comrade 'Softhaired' Juan have some kinda strange affinity for blue washing soap? Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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bogart 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Very good article revealing the plight of the very heroic very firstest front line staff with situation diseased patients. Thank you News Reporter Leandra Rolle and Front line Medical Hospital. We applaud your efforts and are saddened at the cruelty treatment and lack of your safety by the officers responsible.

The article and quick actions is very good in bringing situation more awareness to many of the dilemna of First line care Hospital workers and hopefully the story will drive home the urgency to follow the guidelines to minimize catching and transmission of Covid, to not have to appear at the Hospital. Seems the story have immediately cleared the city of people except those buying essentials and more than ever spacing etc than before.

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