NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Pearl McMillan said efforts have continued amid the pandemic to increase the supply of medical respirators and ventilators as hospitalized cases reached 109 on Monday.
When asked whether there were sufficient respirators, including ventilators, McMillan said: “It’s not just respiratory equipment, you know… It is about the human resource capacity for critical care.
“So, even if you have the equipment, the human resource capacity to carry out critical care activities is what is a big challenge.”
The chief medical officer assured that the government has continued to increase capacity, but the workforce remains the healthcare sector’s “real challenge”.
“My understanding is that we have continued to actually increase our capacity in that space,” she said.
She said before she could provide figures on capacity, she would verify with hospital personnel.
The Bahamas remains in a “raging” COVID surge, according to officials, who believe the spikes can be attributed to variant strains of the virus and holiday activities.
A shortage of healthcare professionals, especially nurses, has stretched the existing complement thin and challenged hospitals’ capacity to maintain critical care of patients.
During a national address last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced 49 medical staff and 111 nurses will be hired at a cost of $7.1 million as part of the government’s plan to engage as many trained professionals as possible.
On Tuesday, the prime minister once again called on retired nurses and doctors to step forward and join the fight against COVID.
McMillan was asked whether those hires have begun to shore up the healthcare system’s capacity.
“We are moving precipitously to get those persons onboard,” she said.
McMillan said she anticipated the Public Hospitals Authority will do “what is required” to ensure the proper distribution of personnel across public sector hospitals, noting that Rand Memorial Hospital on Grand Bahama continues to manage COVID-19 patients.
“I anticipate the resources will be distributed based on need,” she said.
The Bahamas had recorded 15,124 COVID-19 cases up to Monday, August 3.
Active cases stood at 2,020 on Tuesday, while hospitalizations increased from 104 to 109.
However, cases in intensive care units declined from 14 to 11.