Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis toured Samaritan’s Purse’s Isolation and Treatment Unit at Princess Margaret Hospital on Monday. The tour was led by Dr. Elliott Tenpenny and his Samaritan’s Purse team. The field hospital, set up over the weekend adjacent to PMH, is designed to assist additional coronavirus positive patients in New Providence. Samaritan’s Purse will provide full staff and medical supplies for the next few weeks. (BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE addition of a temporary Samaritan’s Purse tent hospital underscores that the government continues to lag behind in its ability to improve health facilities in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Senator Dr Michael Darville.
While he welcomed the additional resources and thanked the organisation for its support, Dr Darville told The Tribune yesterday the government continued to be ill-prepared.
His comments came after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis toured the newly erected isolation and treatment unit on the grounds of Princess Margaret Hospital.
“Samaritan’s Purse did an excellent job to assist Grand Bahama post-Hurricane Dorian.”
“Subsequently the Ministry of Health is still in the final stages of renovating the Rand Memorial Hospital and we are about to come out of the second hurricane season,” Dr Darville said.
“When I heard about Samaritan’s Purse coming to assist the government particularly now with the crisis at Princess Margaret Hospital, it became very clear that the government is still lagging behind in their ability to improve the physical plant at PMH and to ensure that we have sufficient beds for these individuals who are now presenting themselves to hospital with mild, moderate and severe complications of COVID-19.
“Yes, it is good to have the additional 28 rooms with the assistance of Samaritan’s Purse and their professional staff and it’ll prove to be beneficial to this country, but I believe at this stage in the game, particularly the second wave, it only shows how ill-prepared the government has been in preparing us for what is about to come.
“So even though we accept the gift from the Christian society, the government itself now needs to look and focus on the necessity to get all of our healthcare infrastructure to a point whereby we are able to function effectively and to be able to fight in this war against COVID-19 and win.”
Senator Darvile said the facility gives the government legroom to ready the nation for the further opening of the tourism sector on November 1.
“They have clearly indicated that they will be here for a period of time as part of the contract between the Ministry of Health and Samaritan’s Purse and then after that they will be leaving the country and I think leaving the tent behind and some of the equipment, which will create a little leg room for the Ministry of Health, but these are only temporary things. These are things that should have been in place a long time ago.
“We have got to be proactive and four steps ahead of this virus in order to prevent person-to-person transmission,” said Dr Darville, who contracted the virus in August and has since recovered.
The Samaritan’s Purse organisation offered assistance in Abaco and Grand Bahama in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. The New Providence tent facility has 28 beds and will help to increase patient capacity in the face of increasing COVID-19 cases.
It will also serve as a COVID-19 referral centre for The Bahamas. However, it does not include ICU treatment. No ventilators will be provided or operated by Samaritan’s Purse.
“This unit is being set up as a proactive and precautionary measure,” said Minister of Health Renward Wells recently. “The entire world, including The Bahamas, is experiencing the second wave of COVID-19. The Bahamas and countries in the Northern Hemisphere are in flu season and approaching winter.
“It is critical that The Bahamas has additional healthcare capacity as the global pandemic continues, with more waves of the virus likely, which is why we continue to augment healthcare capacity here at home.”
Samaritan’s Purse will provide the unit and all staffing to operate for three to six weeks. There will be 30 staff members, including medical professionals and operations staff.
The organisation will also provide infection prevention control training to protect Bahamian healthcare workers. Public health staff will work alongside Samaritan’s Purse. The treatment unit will be donated to the government upon Samaritan’s Purse’s departure. The set-up of the unit is expected to begin by the end of the week.
Samaritan’s Purse is an international, non-denominational, evangelical, Christian disaster relief organisation.