More than 200 healthcare workers at PMH being monitored, 30 infected

More than 200 healthcare workers at PMH being monitored, 30 infected
Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — More than 200 healthcare workers at the Princess Margaret Hospital are actively being monitored following possible exposure to COVID-19, according to health officials.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillian revealed on Friday that some 30 healthcare workers had tested positive for COVID-19 during the country’s second wave.

“This 30 has exceeded the number that we had in the first wave,” McMillian said.

“All public healthcare facilities, including the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), Sandilands Rehabilitation Center (SRC), community clinics throughout New Providence and the Rand Memorial (Hospital) have been impacted.

“Our healthcare system capacity is challenged to respond to the steep rise in cases and persons under investigation over a short period of time.

“Our acute care units as well as our hospital beds are about to exceed capacity.”

Of those 30 confirmed cases, eight are from PMH, one is from SRC, 15 are from Grand Bahama Health Services (GBHS), two are from the Department of Public Health in the Family Islands, and four from the Department of Public Health in New Providence.

As a result of possible exposure across several facilities, health officials revealed 203 workers at PMH were actively being monitored at work and were considered low risk, along with 32 workers at SRC and five at GBHS.

Data also showed 48 workers at PMH were being quarantined at home or at a government facility and are considered medium to high risk, along with 11 workers at SRC and 67 at GHBS.

Another 65 staff members at PMH are currently under review for possible exposure.

With health care facilities in New Providence and Grand Bahama reaching capacity, healthcare workers warned the government last week that they were at a “tipping point” as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the country.

Bahamas Doctors Union President Dr Melisande Bassett said staff members at the Princess Margaret Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department have become compromised with the “overwhelming” number of patients.

Several nurses, doctors and staff from the department called in sick last Tuesday, according to union representatives.

Additionally, PMH lab technicians staged a walkout and some Grand Bahama nurses called in sick on Wednesday.

During an address yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said he met with leaders of the Nurses Union, Consultant Physicians Staff Association Union, the Bahamas Doctors Union and the Public Service Union to discuss concerns on COVID-19-related matters.

Moving forward, Minnis said there will be separate biweekly meetings between the prime minister, the Ministry of Health and the unions, including internal briefings to union representatives from the Emergency Operations Centre.

Officials have insisted that there is adequate PPEs for frontline workers to address any concerns and those supplies are ordered and topped up by individual units across the health sector once inventory reaches a pre-determined level.

On average, there are enough stock of certain items for 15 to 43 weeks.

“Given the rate that persons are hospitalized, we are in a very good position at this time, based on our calculated burn rates, that we do have the supplies in this country to meet our needs at this time,” said PMH’s Chief Hospital Administrator Mary Walker at a press conference on Friday.