There has been difficulty acquiring isolation chambers for air ambulances because some companies do not make them large enough for some Bahamians, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday.
Last week, Kim Johnson-Rolle, a Bimini resident who was confirmed to have had COVID-19, died after waiting 24 hours to be transported to a hospital on New Providence.
When she finally was airlifted off Bimini, it was in a defense force plane. It was later revealed that the air ambulance did not collect Johnson-Rolle because they had no isolation chambers, despite having assured their willingness and preparedness to transport Family Island COVID-19 patients.
Sands said some isolation chambers have been obtained, but there have been some challenges.
“The pods acquired by air ambulance came at a price of $10,000 each,” he said.
“Some are reusable and some are not. We also identified additional pods that we had in our inventory from the Ebola crisis. We also have coming in a number of other pods.
“One of the challenges is that we have to find devices that can fit our population. And I don’t want to be insensitive at all, but some of the isolation tubes can only carry people up to a certain size. And so, we have this peculiar challenge to find isolation tubes that can fit somebody who is 300 pounds or 350 pounds, because that is us.
“So, we are working to get through this. Some of the suppliers simply don’t make them that big. And hopefully, we will not have a problem with any particular patient.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said last week that an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Johnson-Rolle’s long wait for an air ambulance was ongoing.
Sands said that investigation is not complete yet, but the government is doing all it can to ensure it does not happen again.
“We can point fingers, but I think our preferred approach is to see how we can make things better, how we can eliminate gaps, how we can avoid problems,” he said.
“And that means looking very critically at where we are and how we can do better, not just for some, but for every Bahamian all over the country.
“What’s going to happen in Ragged Island? What’s going to happen in Acklins? What’s going to happen in Mayaguana? These are the important questions.”