Family confirms death of dialysis patient yesterday
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Doctors Hospital has closed its Collins Ave facility to the public and non-essential staff as officials undertake advanced cleaning of its operating rooms and Intensive Care Unit.
Relatives have confirmed a 79-year-old dialysis patient, whom they claimed had COVID-19, died at the facility yesterday; however, Health minister Dr Duane Sands declined comment at this time.
In a later interview, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen confirmed health officials are now investigating two overnight COVID-19 related deaths. This is a developing story.
Speaking to Eyewitness News this morning, Sands called for the need to manage the dissemination of information due to the “huge amount of terror” among the community over the local spread of the virus.
While he would not provide details concerning the facility shutdown, the health minister said he expected more facilities to engage in similar practices once it is determined that they have had exposure to COVID-19, or staff exposure.
“This is not over,” he said, “and I suspect that other facilities will do likewise when it is determined that they have had exposure to COVID or if there have been cases of COVID that have exposed staff and so on and so forth.”
As of yesterday, there were 24 confirmed cases in the country – one of whom died on Monday.
“There is a huge amount of terror as it relates to COVID-19,” Sands said.
“And as we release information understand that that fear can really impact peoples lives and so when we give information we want to be sure that it is absolutely honest, absolutely verified, but that we also consider how we deliver that news so that we don’t worsen the fear, the panic, the terror that people have.”
Doctors Hospital staff were advised yesterday that only critical acute care services will continue, and all outpatient service lines have been placed on hold.
To this, Sands said: “Doctors Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, Elizabeth Estates, Fleming Street, a number of health facilities have temporarily closed to high clean to deal with exposure once it was determined that either cases of COVID or contacts of COVID had been in those facilities.
“We believe that is an appropriate, responsible approach, even though it creates significant challenges for accessing ordinary health care services.”
He continued: “But if we are to contain COVID in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, it becomes incumbent upon us to acknowledge where we believe are hotspots, where we believe there’s been contamination and deal with it according to best practices – so doctors hospital has done just that.
“They identified a risk or a hazard and in order to deal with it they have to make dramatic changes temporarily to their way of doing business to the accessibility of their facility and we encourage and applaud them to do the same thing.”
The hospital released several notices yesterday announcing the suspension of visiting hours and curbside pickup details for its pharmacy.
An email to physicians read: “All access to Doctors Hospital Collins is now ceased due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control. Therefore we have canceled and will reschedule all outpatient appointments for all service lines in DHHS.
“Further, all surgical procedures in all operating rooms have been postponed until further notice to allow completion of advanced cleaning procedures in the operating theatres.
“The intensive care and intermediate care units have been scheduled for immediate interim deep cleaning procedures following the recent events related to the pandemic. We anticipate that these procedures will be complete by Monday morning.
The email continued: “In the interim please be advised that excepting essential physicians, all physician access to Collins Avenue will be ceased. Effective immediately remote rounding on all patients is to commence.
“Clinical and physician assistants are available to assist in remote rounding as necessary.
It added: “Where it is clinically safe and expedient I encourage all physicians to escalate the inpatient care of the patients and commence discharge planning as a matter of urgency.”
During the suspension of visiting hours, loved ones can communicate with patients by telephone or a tele-video enabled virtual visits.
Doctors Hospital’s Blake Road facility has been used to treat positive cases of COVID-19.
The ICU/MCU can be reached at 302-4729 or 302-5307, Medical Surgery at 302-4652, and Maternity at 302-4728 or 302-4259.