Darville: Death of suspected COVID-19 patient raises concerns for Family Islands

Darville: Death of suspected COVID-19 patient raises concerns for Family Islands
Opposition Health spokesman Dr Michael Darville

Patient tested for virus, but results have yet been confirmed

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Senator Michael Darville said today that the death of a suspected COVID-19 patient, who was airlifted from Bimini to New Providence, raises significant concerns about the processes in place to support those who fall ill to the virus in the Family Islands.

“The government has emphatically assured and reassured the public through numerous press conferences that all of the health and safety protocols are in place, including the required equipment not only in New Providence, but also in the Family Islands to adequately address suspected cases of COVID 19,” said Darville, the former minister of state for Grand Bahama,” he said.

“On close examination of the timeline, I am constrained to ask why it took the government some 30 hours to respond to this emergency.

“Bahamians are questioning the government’s preparedness to handle this crisis on the ground, quite apart from speeches at choreographed press conferences.

“Pointedly, are the facilities in the Family Islands equipped to attend effectively to persons who exhibit extreme respiratory distress?

“If they are not, what alternative arrangements has the government made to give urgent medical support to such persons?”

The suspected COVID-19 patient has been identified as deli vendor Kim Johnson-Rolle — the sister of Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson.

Rolle, who had a “significant clinical suspicion” of COVID-19, died in Princess Margaret Hospital last night shortly after arriving.

She was airlifted from Bimini.

The timeline of Rolle being admitted to care in Bimini and when she arrived in New Providence is unclear.

She was tested for the virus, but as of this afternoon, results had yet been confirmed.

Some residents have expressed concerns over the island’s healthcare capacity, namely availability of ventilators and airlift to New Providence.

Today, Darville said the PLP is saddened by the loss and stands in “prayerful sympathy with the family of the deceased during this difficult time”.

He said if the test confirms COVID-19, the ministry must take swift action to execute the require contract tracing protocols and deep cleaning of the clinic, particularly given the close-knit nature of Bimini’s community.

“This could very well be a complicated public health issue,” Darville said.

“If the government is to engender public trust, confidence and continued cooperation in this fight against this pandemic it is critically important that they provide details regarding health care response protocols for not only New Providence, but for all of our Family Islands.”