Patient abandoned at clinic over coronavirus fears

Patient abandoned at clinic over coronavirus fears

Minister says healthcare worker who caused scare will be fired if found

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Healthcare professionals ran out of the Fleming Street clinic and abandoned an ill-patient amid fears the individual could have coronavirus.

Video footage of the clinic taken by an apparent bystander showed staff standing outside wearing masks.

The video, which made the rounds on social media, prompted fears among quarters of the public about a potential case of the virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, in The Bahamas.

As of Wednesday morning, there remained no suspected, reported of confirmed cases of the virus, according Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands.

However, the health minister reiterated it is not a matter of if, but when the virus reaches the nation.

Sands addressed the Fleming Street clinic while briefing nurses on COVID-19 at the Ministry of Health.

He called the incident a violation of patient confidentiality and a violation of the oath taken by healthcare professionals.

“Today, a patient went to Fleming Street — a patient who was entitled to confidentiality — and somebody would have said ‘oh my Lord, this person could have that thing’, and before we know it the entire staff break off running,” the minister said.

“Next thing I know, we have videos on social media; Facebook, WhatsApp etc.

“Now I ask you; suppose it was my HIV status that was being put around or your pregnancy status or Gonorrhea or Syphilis or whatever.

“I think that we need to understand that above all else, no matter what, confidentiality even in this era has to be maintained.

“I am not accusing anybody, but if I ever find out who it was the created that scare, I will see to it that you are fired, full stop.

“I don’t think there is any justification for violating patient confidentiality at any time.

“If you are afraid, call and say I have a problem with this; I cannot do this; this is ethically a problem for me; but to abandon a patient; to leave a patient is a violation of the oath that we take.

“I don’t think we need to say anymore about that.”

Sands said he understand the fears surrounding the virus, and the concerns of healthcare professionals who would be more exposed in the event of an outbreak in The Bahamas.

However, he said fear that is misguided is inappropriate.

“I have to look at the event it could be any of us,” he said.

“And so, the idea is we want to treat everybody with respect and not as lepers.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic Wednesday morning.

Sands said with the new classification, healthcare officials’ focus shifts from prevention of importation to “identification, isolation and control”.

More than 126,000 cases have been confirmed in over 114 countries.

Nearly 4,700 people have died from the virus.

Over 68,000 people have contracted the virus and recovered.