NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) advised today that the Princess Margaret Hospital has suspended specialty clinics and elective surgeries until further notice.
This comes as healthcare professionals sounded the alarm over the closure of at least four wards due to potential COVID-19 exposure.
The PHA’s communications department declined comment on the matter at this time.
Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams said: “I know about four wards we’ve had exposure, that’s almost, I’m estimating based on experience working in there, you have at least 12 to 15 (nurses exposed).
“These nurses that were exposed, all they had was a plastic apron and gloves,” she continued.
“I don’t even have a yellow gown to cover all of me and then I’m going home to my relatives exposing them. I only have insurance for me.”
Williams called on the PHA to test both patients and staff for the virus.
She underscored there were still longstanding infrastructural challenges at the facility, and payment issues.
“We have a few wards that have been compromised and a few wards that are presently down,” she said.
“That means they are not functioning, we had Eye Ward, Female Surgical II, it’s also the Female Medical Ward that we are having challenges, totally no air-conditioning. We have wards leaking.
“We know there is a tropical storm passing that could potentially turn into a hurricane. We have a great challenge at PMH presently, the hospital is in an uproar.”
The weather system has been projected to pass over The Bahamas as a “weak tropical storm” this weekend.
Williams added that six nurses have tested positive for the virus, with 15 currently in quarantine in Grand Bahama.
The shift to emergency care took effect on Tuesday.
“The public is advised that only emergency cases will be managed during this period,” read the statement.
“The public is asked to use Ambulance Services for emergencies only. The public should contact their personal physicians or community clinics for non-emergencies during the day and Accident & Emergency after hours.”
Specialty Clinics have been suspended at the hospital until further notice; with the exception of the Eye Care Centre on Soldier Road and Family Medicine Clinic at 4th Terrace Centerville.
Patients with appointments are asked to contact the Patient Appointment and Scheduling Unit at the Princess Margaret Hospital at telephone number 808-9972, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elective surgeries have also been suspended until further notice. Only emergency surgeries will be accommodated at this time with the exception of Oncology, Vascular and Caesarean Section procedures.
Access to the Hospital
According to the statement, all patients and visitors must enter the hospital through the Critical Care Block entrance only.
All maternity patients including Maternity-Day cases must enter through the Maternity entrance.
“Only Dialysis patients will be permitted to use the Medical Block Entrance prior to their appointment times,” the statement read.
“All staff are required to access the hospital via the Hospital’s main entrance at the Critical Care Block. Staff are required to wear their ID badge at all times.”
All visitation remains suspended at the hospital during this period, according to the statement.
“The public is reminded to follow the Ministry of Health’s guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include: wear a face mask when you leave home; wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 70 percent; cover your cough or sneeze in your inner elbow or with a tissue; and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as phones, remote controls, counters, doorknobs, and keyboards.”
It added: “The PHA thanks the public for their continued support during this time. Further announcements and updates on hospital services will be disseminated as it becomes necessary.”
In a later statement, the PHA advised other services at PMH that are continuing include: Diagnostic Imaging & Radiology; Rehabilitative Services and Oncology Chemotherapy.