Rand beyond capacity

Grand Bahama Health Services (GBHS) Administrator Sharon Williams said yesterday that the Rand Memorial Hospital is beyond its capacity with COVID-19 patients, noting that the government may have to offer additional assistance if the steady increase in hospitalizations continues.

“It’s very hectic, of course, for our clinicians and I’m sure for our patients and their families,” Williams told The Nassau Guardian.

“We are doing as much as we can in Grand Bahama Health Services to make sure that our patients’ need for care are tended to as soon as possible. Yes, we do have some concerns with nursing shortages and, of course, with other clinical discipline shortages in those areas as well. But we always continue to make sure that the necessary staffing to give optimal care [is] addressed and we will continue to do the best for our clients.”

She said GBHS is using its 

internal contingencies amid a recent surge in COVID hospitalizations on the island.

“If this increase continues, of course, then the government will have to look at additional assistance for Grand Bahama from any NGO (non-governmental organization) or Samaritan’s Purse if that is the way the government is going at the moment,” Williams said.

“But we are hoping that our community listens and that we all adhere to the protocols in place and get this concern under control.”

The Bahamas confirmed more than 1,800 cases between July 1 and July 28.  

The number of hospitalization increased from 50 on July 1 to 106 on July 28.

Hospitalizations on Grand Bahama jumped from two on July 1 to 32, including two patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), on Wednesday.

“Our bed capacity for the hospital is 90,” Williams said yesterday.

“Certainly, in our most critical areas, such as Med Surg, we are over the capacity in those areas. Our ward that deals with our critical patients [is] full and that is our ICU. Our ward at the Cancer Society and our Med Surg ward, they are all full to capacity with patients waiting in our Emergency Room for bed space.”

More than 17 nurses at the Rand called in sick in an apparent sickout on Wednesday.

When asked how the hospital managed, Williams replied, “We call in other persons who are off to see if they are willing to work. Additionally, those persons who come to work, we make sure that they are deployed in critical areas to ensure that those persons who need critical care are effectively supported. In addition, our nurse managers and other senior practitioners pitch in and make sure that they work at ward levels to ensure our patients receive around-the-clock care.”

Health officials have noted a need for more healthcare workers during the ongoing surge in cases.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced this week that the government will spend $7.1 million to hire an additional 49 medical staff members along with 111 nurses and nursing support staff to bolster the staff currently dedicated to the COVID response.

Williams said at least 10 to 15 additional registered nurses are needed to complement staff at the Rand right now.

She was not able to say how many specialty nurses are needed.

The Bahamas confirmed 14,545 cases since March 2020.

Of that figure, 2,037 cases were confirmed on Grand Bahama.

Health officials have admitted that the more infectious Delta variant may be in country.

As a result, officials, including the prime minister, continue to advise the public to take the COVID-19 vaccine despite a shortage in The Bahamas. 

Williams said yesterday that vaccine uptake on Grand Bahama is “not as aggressive” as she wants it to be.

“Yes, there has been an increase since the perceived shortage and availability of vaccine were noted, we would’ve gotten an increase in persons who are now interested,” she said.

“Unfortunately, we can only serve a certain number of persons per day. That is because of our capacity for staffing at the unit as well as the availability of the vaccine on a given day. We will have to increase our intake as soon as the government would have increased the supply as they anticipated within any number of given days now.”

As of July 24, 103,164 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in The Bahamas. 

Sixty thousand five hundred and seventy-eight people have received one dose of the vaccine and 43,943 people, including those who got it abroad, received both doses.

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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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