PM reports on efforts to shore up health sector

Hospital capacity is expected to increase by 80 beds as a result of a number of new measures, including the use of the Breezes resort to treat non-COVID patients, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday.

“Given the exponential increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 requiring intervention, the [Public Hospitals Authority] has also engaged SuperClubs Breezes,” Minnis said during a national address.

“The plan is to utilize the east building of the hotel as a national response facility to meet the needs of non-COVID-19 ‘low medical care’ patients during the pandemic.

“This facility will accommodate both the employees that are attending the patients on one floor and clinical and management operations on other floors.”

Minnis said the facility will be up and running “very shortly”. He said the government has been asked only to cover the utility costs during its use of the hotel.

Minnis also said Doctors Hospital West is adding beds.

He also noted that the government is making plans to relocate 33 boarders at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) to increase capacity there.

However, it has not yet been determined where they will be moved to.

“The combined strategy to increase bed capacity in the public and private healthcare systems will result in an increase of approximately 80 patient beds at this time,” Minnis said.

The announcement came days after doctors, nurses and other staff at PMH walked out of the Accident and Emergency Department due to a shortage of isolation rooms to house suspected COVID-19 patients.

While that particular matter was resolved, the presidents of the Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) and the Consultant Physician Staff Association (CPSA) both warned that with increasing cases, hospital capacity will continue to be a concern unless the issue is addressed.

In his national address last week, Minnis said Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds were at capacity.

Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said ICU beds on Grand Bahama have also been at 100 percent capacity for the past month. 

Minnis said that going forward, New Providence COVID patients with mild symptoms will be treated at the South Beach Clinic. Those with moderate to severe symptoms will be treated at PMH and Doctors Hospital West. 

Minnis said PMH will continue the management of medical and surgical patients at the main hospital. 

On Grand Bahama, he said a new unit is being constructed at the Rand Memorial Hospital to increase capacity.

Additionally, the Cancer Society Building has been retrofitted to house infectious disease patients, including COVID-19 patients.

As of yesterday, there were 898 cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas – 417 on New Providence, 389 on Grand Bahama, 45 on Bimini, 28 on Abaco, 12 in the Berry Islands, three on Cat Island, three on Exuma and one on Eleuthera. 

Of the cases, 794 have been recorded since July 8 in what health officials have determined is the second wave of infections.

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Rachel Knowles

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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