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Doctor calling for more COVID testing on Grand Bahama

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

A GRAND Bahama doctor is calling on health officials to expand COVID-19 testing capabilities to the island.

Dr Kevin Bethel, of Family Wellness Centre in Freeport, said tests from Grand Bahama are being sent to Nassau for checking.

“What needs to happen is we need testing ability to test on the island,” he stated, explaining that it adds an extra time delay and cost sending the tests to New Providence. He believes that actual testing on the island could have a one-day turnaround.

When the country opens again, Dr Bethel said Bahamians traveling abroad and returning to The Bahamas must be tested when they land.

“Major islands would need to have testing ability,” he stressed at a recent Grand Bahama Rotary meeting.

Another issue, claims the physician, is the inability of the public hospital to measure pulmonary function tests for COVID-19 patients who experience pulmonary issues.

The Rand Memorial Hospital, he claims, does not have a simple pulmonary function test capability and that officials have been made aware of this but done nothing about it.

“It is important, to follow the progress of the patient, to do these pulmonary functions, and I have been advocating that from the beginning. And as I report, can you believe it or not, even though I informed the (government officials), the Rand claims they do not have a simple pulmonary function test capability. How are you managing patients that are in a pulmonary crisis - breathing crisis when you cannot measure their pulmonary function - that is beyond comprehension. I am not holding my tongue on this issue because I have clearly messaged them, and nothing has been done,” he claimed.

Dr Bethel said that a lack of follow up testing to confirm that patients are no longer shedding the virus is also a concern.

“We are getting data not from the government, but I can tell you from my own practice I have patients that are anxious to go back to work and there are various different scenarios where patients were sent home from the hospital with no basic treatment,” he said. “No surprise, so we are getting data like that, and I have a handful of people like that in that scenario. And this is why we ranked at the very bottom with managing COVID.”

He was referring to the fact that The Bahamas ranked at the bottom in the world in its response and total management of the COVID-19 crisis, at 183 of 184 in terms of its recovery rate, according to a report issued by the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI).

The GCI report, published on July 28, gave this country an index score of 6.99 out 100, putting it far behind countries which have made more progress in lessening the spread of the disease.

Dr Bethel also raised issue with the treatment he said some patients are receiving, claiming that some patients are being given Augmentin, an antibiotic, which is useless in treating COVID-19 symptoms.

“The World Health Organisation said after two weeks with treatment you should be free of the virus. After the two week mark, because the government won’t retest them again, they come in and get a private test to show … but they are still positive and that is because they did not get treatment. And this is why we ranked at the very bottom with managing COVID.”

Dr Bethel indicated that there are some drugs that can help treat symptoms of COVID-19 patients, such as Acetylcysteine, which can be obtained as a prescription or over the counter.

“It is pennies for the pills; it is available over the counter and as a prescription; it is safe and has no side effects - it is just amazing,” he said.

Other prescription drug options are persantine, soliris, and hydroxychloroquine, Dr Bethel said.

However, despite it being touted by some as a possible COVID-19 treatment, including US President Donald Trump, the US FDA has cautioned against use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.

For his part, Dr Bethel said that Vitamin D and Zinc are also effective for prevention. He recommends going outside in the sun or purchasing the supplements and exercising.

He noted that people with severe symptoms who seek medical help shed the virus for a shorter time than asymptomatic people with mild symptoms who shed the virus for a longer period up to 19 days.

“So, it is like a see-saw trade-off balance. You get a mild case of it, but then you become a super spreader. That is doubly worse – that is scary,” Dr Bethel said.

Comments

Economist 3 years, 9 months ago

Thank you Dr. Bethel. Finally someone has set out the facts.

You are correct about the contact tracing. I am well aware of many persons who gave contact information only to find the persons were never contacted.

Whoever told Minnis that we had an 87% and 80% rate of contact traceing is trying to make him feel good and look like a fool before the Bahamain people.

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thps 3 years, 9 months ago

They didn't care about testing early and now we are paying the price late. If you fail to plan...

No one can accuse you of hindsight...You have been preaching this for months.

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T.Rolle 3 years, 9 months ago

If he have all the treatments and answers then why the man not treating patients that have the virus? All the talking he doing ain’t helping.

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Islandgirl 3 years, 9 months ago

This is interesting. The Infectious Diseases Society of America’s just last weak published information that stated once again that hydroxychloroquine should not be used for treating patients with Covid 19 at all because of heart issues that may develop. But here it is being promoted again. With the Treating of some patients with augmentin, perhaps the patient also had a bacterial respiratory infection that that drug would have effectively treated. Covid 19 may also have been present at the same time which of course that antibiotic would not treat. A tilted And biased picture was presented in this claim. Zinc, vitamin d3 and vitamin c all help with prevention, recovery and treatment of Covid 19 symptoms. They are promoted all the time by almost every Traditional or natural doctor I know, especially with protecting against another Group of viruses we face regularly in the flu season. If those three things are taken Regularly for prevention purposes, and social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing are strictly done and enforced, we can beat this. Maybe a donation of a lung function test To the Rand should be in order along with heart testing machines. Going on all these shows and giving mostly credible information Is very good, but then sliding in these side slaps makes it not a good look. You have the means and there are other complaining persons of means too who can help in this way. If the government doesn’t fill in the needs then we all collectively should if we are able to and not just sit back slinging pot shots. The Port Authority too, since providing a hospital for Grand Bahama is one of its Responsibilities in their Hawksbill agreement. Stay humble. One more question, what about that pine needles bush tea you were promoting? Does it really work? You didn’t mention it this time.

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