A shortage of critical care staff could limit The Bahamas’ ability to respond to the COVID-19 threat, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands acknowledged today.
Dr. Sands said insufficient staff numbers is more problematic than insufficient equipment.
“Our… limiting factor is critical care staff, and in particular, critical care nurses because you cannot manage a patient just on a ventilator. You need somebody to manage that patient,” he told The Nassau Guardian.
“The challenge that The Bahamas faces is less an issue of mechanical equipment and more an issue of chronic shortage of skilled nurses.
“…[O]ur limiting factor is not going to be ventilators, the challenge will be those hardworking heroes, doctors and nurses, supported by respiratory therapists, who will have to manage those patients.”
Yesterday acting Minister of Health Jeffrey Lloyd confirmed that a 61-year-old New Providence resident tested positive for the novel coronavirus at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
It was also revealed that the female has not traveled outside The Bahamas within the last 20 days.
Ministry of Health officials said they are carrying out contact tracing in an effort to determine how the patient contracted the virus and who else may have been impacted. However, some Bahamians have complained about an apparent lapse in their efforts.
Dr. Sands defended the Ministry’s work today.
“Let me be very clear, the same team that you saw answering those questions, had spent the entire night managing that patient and managing the logistics,” he said.
“They have done yeomen’s work, often times all day, sometimes all night, whether we are talking about the chief medical officer the deputy chief medical officer, Dr. (Nikkiah) Forbes, who runs the infectious diseases unit.
“These persons are giving their all. So, if there are gaps, please understand that those gaps are probably in part because they would have been going at six million miles an hour with no break. The goal is to get the answers, to be transparent, but to give the best that you can possibly give in service to country. I don’t think you can ask anybody to do more than that.
Dr. Sands added that as multiple countries around the world battle similar issues, Bahamians can only count on one another.
“There is no cavalry to come in and save the day,” he said.
“We are going to have to work together as a people. We are going to have to support each other. We are going to have to prop each other up, we are going to have to give a shoulder to cry on. A denialist view is not going to help. What’s going to help is if we say that as Bahamians, residents and citizens, that we are going to help each other to get through this and that failure, collapse is not an option.”