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New measures as PMH deals with COVID rise

With COVID-19 hospitalizations in The Bahamas having surged to 92 on Tuesday, measures were announced yesterday to manage the uptick at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).

According to a Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) statement, the measures are “designed to reduce the spread of the virus among patients and staff, and to account for an increase in the number of persons having to be admitted, the overwhelming majority of whom are unvaccinated.”

The PHA noted that effective immediately, the Emergency Department will be accepting only emergency cases. 

“Persons in need of care for non-medical emergencies should visit their doctor’s office or community clinic,” the statement read.

All elective surgeries and outpatient laboratory services have also been suspended. 

“Emergency out-patient laboratory services will resume at Agape Clinic on Monday, July 26,” the statement read.

In-person appointments at specialty clinics and other outpatient services have also been suspended, with the exception of emergency maternity cases; oncology services, by appointment only; dialysis services, by appointment only; obstetrics high-risk clinic, by appointment; radiology and diagnostic services, by appointment or emergency cases only; orthopedic services – fracture and hand, by appointment or emergency cases only; out-patient rehabilitation services, by appointment only; PMH Blood Bank, by appointment only or off-site blood drive.

The PHA said specialty clinics will operate virtually by appointment only.

“Patients needing to reschedule in-person clinic appointments should contact the PMH Appointment Scheduling Unit,” it read.

PMH Agape Clinic will operate at reduced hours, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Monday to Friday, mostly by appointment, as limited walk-in patients will be accommodated.

The Eye Care Centre on Soldier Road will operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The PMH Prescription Refill Program allows prescriptions that are submitted via the refill program to be collected directly from the hospital’s front desk once confirmation of prescription is received from the pharmacy,” the statement read.

“Persons requiring prescription refills for chronic medications should send a message with the Rx number and the MRN (which can be found on the medication label) to 424-3642 via WhatsApp.”

The PHA said PMH is also urgently asking for blood donations, as there is a critical shortage at the blood bank, due to the impact of the COVID pandemic on voluntary blood donations and replacement supply donations.

The PHA said patients at PMH “will be required to strictly adhere to all COVID-19 prevention protocols including social distancing, temperature checks, face masks and hand washing at the hospital’s main entrance.”

Visitation remains suspended, and visitation at the intensive care (ICU) and neonatal intensive care units (NICU) will take place on a case-by-case basis, as determined by clinicians.

Additionally, the statement noted that a drop-off system has been implemented at the main entrance of the hospital, for items to be delivered to patients, daily from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“All items must be packaged in a secure bag, clearly labeled with the patient’s name, and designated ward,” the statement read.

“Only one bag per patient is allowed per drop-off.”

There has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in recent weeks, with a number of healthcare workers raising concern over hospitals being at capacity.

In the past week, the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 increased from 73 on July 13 to 92 on July 20. Thirteen people were in intensive care at last report.

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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