Munroe: Doctors remain up to the task, despite Family Island challenges

Munroe: Doctors remain up to the task, despite Family Island challenges
Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) President Dr. Locksley Munroe

PM plans to conference call FI administrators for update on preparedness

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) President Dr  Locksley Munroe yesterday said that despite challenged conditions in the Family Islands, namely Grand Bahama and Abaco, doctors and physicians remain up to the task of providing care to COVID-19 patients.

“Freeport certainly has challenges presently because that was where I think the fifth case came from, so obviously they know they have it in the community,” Munroe said.

“They have not reported anything from Abaco, but Abaco is at great risk — no different from anyone else.

“But they have challenges in Freeport with those tents, and all that kind of thing, and obviously with personal protective equipment (PPE) there are challenges.

“But that is not unique to us either.

“America is complaining like heck. France just ordered one billion face masks from China, so The Bahamas is not facing those challenges. We have them for sure.”

Abaco and Grand Bahama were ravaged by Hurricane Dorian last September.

Both islands remain in recovery mode.

The healthcare infrastructure in Grand Bahama was hit hard by Dorian.

An estimated 80 percent of the Rand Memorial Hospital (RMH) as affected, while other health facilities were leveled in High Rock and East End.

With the assistance of Samaritan’s Purse, a field hospital — a 40-bed tent facility that can receive up to 100 patients per day — was established near RMH, where thousands have received care.

As of yesterday, there were 14 cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas — two in Grand Bahama and 12 in New Providence.

Of those cases, two require hospitalization and all patients were said to be in stable condition.

The first patient has recovered and was released from hospital last week.

The others remain quarantined at home.

Yesterday, Munroe said healthcare workers were “entering an environment of high risk” each day they report to work at a hospital or clinic.

He said: “Generally speaking it is sick people who come to those places, so… that’s part of our training; that’s part of what we face.

“A lot of us have gotten our immunization and what not to try and protect you in the environment, but because this is a brand new strain of virus there isn’t one — immunization to protect healthcare workers from this thing.”

During a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced plans to have a conference call with all island administrators to get an update on preparations to combat local spread of the virus.

He thanked the healthcare workers on the frontlines and the Bahamian people for their strength and resilience.

“I want this curfew to end as soon as possible,” Minnis said.

“I want these restrictions over as soon as possible.

“But for now we have to stop the spread of this virus.”

Last October, Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands underscored the lack of resources on Family Islands to manage critically ill patients — an issue he said the nation has faced before the advent of Hurricane Dorian.

At the time, Sands said the level of need for medical services was greater on Grand Bahama, where an estimated 50,000 people remained on the island.

During a press conference at the Ministry of Health last Tuesday, Sands affirmed there is adequate resources and funding to respond to the pandemic.

Speaking to the Family Islands, the health minister said: “When you look around the Family Islands, there is a build out of infrastructure. We are looking at acquisition of vehicles; test capacity; a call center; the ability to do all the things we need to identify, to isolate and to mitigate this threat”.

To that end, the minister said the government has purchased hundreds of thousands of N95 masks; regular masks; thousands of gowns; gloves; bootees; and other PPEs

Over 7,000 PPE kits are expected to arrive in The Bahamas by the end of this week.

The government has over 2,300 COVID-19 rapid test kits.

Another 15,000 test kits are expected to be secured “soon”.