Surgeon: COVID-19 is here to stay

COVID-19 is here to stay, and the only way to keep it to a minimum and beat it is for people to arm themselves with the right information, says laparoscopic surgeon Dr. Ross Downes.

“What we need to do is understand that it’s here to stay and we need to be ready. Do the right thing,” said Downes, who is taking part in the COVID-19 effort at Doctors Hospital West, a COVID-19 facility.

“The only way we can keep it to a minimum and beat it is if we keep ourselves informed with the right information and keep the right protocols in place,” said Downes.

“We know the information, and as we learn more, it’s going to fluctuate, it’s going to change. The guidelines are going to be different, but we have to remember it’s going to be here.”

The doctor referenced the face mask debate, which initially said face masks did not need to be worn, but now it has become a mandate for people leaving their homes to wear a covering over their nose and mouth.

Downes, one of the physicians that go into the Blake Road facility, says his primary role is to put in vascular accesses for COVID-19 patients.

“The reasons that we have these accesses as part of their protocol is because it allows us to take blood, give them medication, [and] anything IV (intravenous) can be done with this vascular access which we do because the patient gets stuck only once. Vascular access decreases the amount of risk of blood draws and blood contamination with these patients who we know are COVID positive.”

The Bahamas had eight hospitalized cases of the new coronavirus as of yesterday.

When Downes has to do a procedure on a COVID-19 patient, he does so wearing four layers – disposable scrubs, a jumpsuit, an apron and a surgical gown; as well as three pairs of gloves – two pairs of gloves that are the normal part of what he says is the donning process of putting on the personal protective equipment (PPE), and his regular surgical gloves.

He normally works in just one layer of PPE.

“It makes it a little more difficult for us to do what we’re doing, [because] I no longer can use my sense of touch to help me find these big vessels to help me put in these vascular accesses. I have to be more precise in how I do it,” he said of all the layers. “But it has to be done. It protects the medical staff and the patients.”

The Bahamas had 83 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths, 25 recovered cases and 47 active cases yesterday. Tests have been completed on 1,391 people. Worldwide there were 3,476,021 confirmed cases; 246,027 deaths; and 1,113,454 recovered.

The lead physician/general surgeon at The SurgiCentre, an ambulatory day surgery facility, said the acute phase of the disease is gone.

“The acute phase is gone. The acute people dying – the medical community trying to figure out what was causing this problem in the first place… We know what it is,” he said.

He said as the learning evolves, they implement protocols at The SurgiCentre, just as people should be implementing them in their daily lives.

At The SurgiCentre, Downes said, they look at all the information, and the strongest evidence to guide them through what has to be done at the facility. He said hand sanitization continues to be most important as a person walks through the door. Patients have to wear a face mask and they’re installing a digital facial thermometer which recognizes temperature. Shoe coverings, he said, are vital.

“What we found from Italy and France and those places, when they examined what transmitted infection, it was from [people] tracking in with their shoes, and also of course the kissing and other things. But we found one of the primary things was the shoes transmitted infections. The evidence says take off your shoes, because you don’t want to track whatever is out there into whatever facility it is and that decreases your risk of infection. It’s a known fact,” he said.

“COVID is now here to stay. So, you’re going to be bombarded with lots of information, so what you really need to do is choose the right information. Make sure it comes from a credible source. If it isn’t logical and doesn’t make sense to you, you need to fact check it [and] make sure you make the right choices of what information you follow.”

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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