‘Only patients weighing less than 270 pounds can be airlifted in isolation pods’

Princess Margaret Hospital Administrator Mary Walker said yesterday that the isolation pods being used to transport COVID-19 patients from the Family Islands can only hold patients who weigh less than 270 pounds.

“There is a weight restriction with respect to the ISO pods,” Walker said during a Ministry of Health press conference.

“That is 270 pounds and so persons who exceed that weight limit, the pod will not be able to afford the protection of the other persons who will be traveling in that same vessel – whether that vessel is an airplane or a boat  – if the pod is not secured based on the programed weight limit.”

Walker’s comments came a week after a Bimini resident, who weighed nearly 400 pounds, died after a rapid antigen COVID-19 test diagnosed him as COVID-positive.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan said that all efforts are being put forward to prevent “us from being in that position again”. 

When asked about The Bahamas’ capacity for evacuating obese patients from the Family Islands, she replied, “Certainly, I’m very familiar with the case and it was unfortunate that we [were] unable to bring the case out of Bimini due to the weight restriction.”

McMillan added, “We are seeking to determine exactly what would be the best way to accommodate a patient that we have in a particular island where we are unable to use the pod that is purchased to bring individuals in from that particular island.”

The death of the Bimini man mirrors that of the first COVID-19 death in The Bahamas.

A 57-year-old Bimini woman, Kim Johnson-Rolle, died shortly after arriving on New Providence on March 31, 2020, after waiting 24 hours to be airlifted due to the unavailability of an ISO chamber to safely transport her from Bimini. So far, 189 people have died from COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

The country’s most recent COVID death was a 74-year-old man from Bimini who died on March 30, 2021, according to the ministry.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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