DHHS says its facilities are safe
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Doctors Hospital is anticipating another wave of increased COVID-19 cases in the new year, but continues taking steps to avoid anyone being potentially exposed to the virus while at its facilities, according to a statement released yesterday.
Doctors Hospital Health System (DHHS) Chief Medical Officer Dr Sheena Antonio-Collie, in the statement, said Doctors Hospital has been “determined and proactive” in keeping its medical professionals, staff, patients and others who make use of DHHS services safe.
This includes, she noted, mitigating exposure to all possible hospital-associated infections.
“So, from the beginning, we have implemented strategies to ensure safety and we continue to hold the line with measures such as limiting relatives’ and visitors’ access to the hospital,” Antonio-Collie said.
“Our frequent testing of staff and patients continues as a part of our active surveillance strategy.”
While the healthcare delivery services in the Bahamas are in the “low” pandemic mode in December 2020, DHHS continues with its efforts to build in-patient bed capacity since “we anticipate another wave of increased COVID-19 cases in the New Year”, according to Antonio-Collie.
The DHHS statement read: “The world over, people have put off scheduled appointments, cancer scans, immunizations and scheduled elective procedures fearing coronavirus exposure in hospitals and at medical centers.
“However, the World Health Organization (WHO) strongly counsels against individuals with non-COVID-19 severe illnesses, such as cancer, uncontrolled cardiovascular disease and diabetes, putting off treatment waiting until the healthcare burden of cases of COVID-19 subsides.
“In full agreement, Doctors Hospital Health System’s medical professionals and administrators wish to assure the general public that it is safe to obtain medical and surgical treatment at its facilities.
“Despite the restrictions to mitigate spread of infection into and within DHHS, the access to emergency services remains available 24/7.”
DHHS Oncology Surgeon and Surgical Services Clinical Director Dr Wesley Francis also sought to assure patients that the scheduling of surgeries at this time is safe.
“We have gone through a significant process to get to the point where we deem it safe to have surgery,” he said, adding that there was a lot of confusion at the beginning of the pandemic and DHHS was unsure of whether it was safe to proceed with elective surgery.
This led administrators to study and adapt to the guidelines put in place by international surgical societies, especially the American surgical societies, according to the DHHS statement. Adopting these guidelines meant identifying the patients who were at risk, who needed immediate treatment and those whose surgeries could be postponed.
“Early on in the pandemic, we stopped elective surgeries — surgeries that are planned, surgeries that could wait,” Francis said.
“We focused on the emergency surgeries, those procedures that couldn’t wait at that point in time. And this was just based on guidelines set out by most of the surgical societies.”
The statement noted: “DHHS is pleased to announce that in recent weeks all elective surgeries and non-COVID-19-related treatments have resumed at its facilities, with all parties following safety protocols and guidelines to ensure public safety.”
It added: “A central part of DHHS’ counter-COVID-19 implementation is the use of the rapid RT-PCR test which within four to six hours identifies patients who are positive for COVID-19 and expedites the decision to continue to quarantine this high-risk group.
“To that point, Dr Charlyon Bonimy, DHHS infectious disease specialist and clinical director, specifies the screening of patients, the separation of patients with COVID versus non-COVID patients and the capacity of the hospital to isolate and separately treat all patient groups creates both safety and advantage for DHHS.
“The hospital has introduced a policy on using personal protective equipment (PPE) in which patient care personnel must wear suitable gloves, gowns and masks.”
Bonimy stated: “That would augment patient safety as well as staff safety, and we have a pretty good model with regards to screening and surveillance of our employees.”