Princess Margaret Hospital. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
MORE than 100 pregnant women have been admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, a top doctor revealed Friday.
Dr Richard Braham, head of PMH’s obstetrics and gynecology department, said 10 of those women have died due to COVID-19 complications, the majority of which occurred in this third wave.
He also warned that there will be more maternal deaths if people do not adhere to the current health protocols.
“Since the pandemic has started, we have experienced a total of ten maternal deaths,” he said. “This is actually quite unprecedented in our entire time in the obstetrics and gynecology arena. We’ve had over 130 persons cared for with COVID-19. However, since this third wave, we have had 74 admissions.”
“So more than half of that, 130 patients, have been admitted ill in the third wave. We have had over three maternal deaths over the past six weeks again. This is a stark reality, ladies and gentlemen. For years, our department and patient load has completely grown the structure that we’re in.”
Dr Braham added: “COVID-19 has brought home the stark reality to all of us that we’ve outgrown where we practice and tried to deliver quality healthcare to women’s health here in The Bahamas and surrounding nations.”
“As I’ve mentioned before, we have seen where we have had many a still birth, many a premature delivery in order to try and help save the mother and try help our colleagues in anesthesiologist and medicine critical care to help us treat these patients.”
“We are hampered by space. We are hampered by staffing. We are hampered by fatigue and mental breakdown.”
Earlier this week, Pan American Health Organisation’s director Dr Carissa Etienne recommended all pregnant women take COVID-19 vaccinations after their first trimester.
She said more than 270,000 pregnant women have become sick with COVID in the region and more than 2,600 of them (or one percent of those infected) have died from the virus.
“COVID vaccines approved by WHO are safe to administer during pregnancy and are a critical tool to protect expectant mothers during the pandemic,” she said during PAHO’s weekly webinar.
“And, while it’s too soon to see the impact of vaccinations on cases and deaths, there are some encouraging signs: In Mexico, where pregnant women have been prioritised for vaccinations for some time, not a single vaccinated woman has died from COVID during pregnancy.”
She said COVID-19 vaccines can also protect newborns.
“A mother who breastfeeds passes immunity to her baby,” she continued. “So COVID-19 vaccines can also help protect newborns from the virus. It is critical that pregnant women maintain the public health measures proven effective against this virus.
“Wearing masks, maintaining social distance, limiting contact with people outside of their households and avoiding indoor gatherings are especially important to keep expecting mothers safe from COVID.
“Pregnancy can be one of the most important and fulfilling times in a woman’s life and a critical period for a baby’s growth and future.
“We owe it to the women in Latin America and the Caribbean to use all the tools at our disposal to protect them and their babies during the pandemic,” Dr Etienne added.