NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Super Clubs Breezes has been identified as a National Response Facility to meet the needs of non-COVID-19 “low medical care” patients during the pandemic.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced plans to utilize the east building of the hotel during a national address yesterday.
He said the hotel has only asked the government to cover the cost of utilities.
The government has also previously utilized the hotel as a quarantine facility.
Yesterday, Minnis said: “This facility will accommodate both the employees that are attending the patients on one floor, and clinical and management operations on other floors.
“Security services will be provided by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, supplemented by a PHA-contracted security firm. This facility will be up and running very shortly.”
He continued: “I must note and be very clear that PMH is unable to manage this new patient care location without the tangible support of physicians and nurses from the Department of Public Health and the wider community.”
“On behalf of the Government and people of The Bahamas, I thank Breezes for the role it has played as a corporate citizen during this pandemic.
“The Government has only been asked to cover utility costs during the use of the hotel as the new national response facility.”
Minnis noted the government’s COVID-19 response has required “sizable, non-budgeted financial investments” to utilize privately owned facilities.
He underscored the country’s public healthcare system is severely limited in its ability to accommodate infected patients requiring inpatient care because of COVID-19.
There are currently 420 inpatient beds at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
During his address, Minnis said the combined strategy to increase bed capacity in both public and private healthcare systems will add 80 patient beds.
“We are living in a health care environment with dramatically increasing use of health services by more critically ill patients, as well as social cases at PMH,” the prime minister said.
“There is also an exponential growth in healthcare costs. The current pandemic and the need to strengthen Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices, coupled with adherence to social distancing requirements, had led to an inevitable reduction in the overall bed complement at PMH.”
Minnis announced clinical management of confirmed and suspected Covid-19 cases will now be treated at the following locations on New Providence: South Beach Center, for mild to moderate cases; and Princess Margaret Hospital and Doctors Hospital Health System (West) for moderate to severe cases.
“PMH will continue the management of medical and surgical patients at the main hospital,” he said.
“The relocation from the Princess Margaret Hospital of boarders and the establishment of the National Response Facility off-site, will make available more beds so that COVID-19 patients can be more easily accommodated at PMH.
“Doctors Hospital West is also increasing its bed capacity to help address the need.”
As for Grand Bahama, Minnis said the Cancer Society Building was retrofitted to house infectious diseases patients, including COVID-19 patients.
He pointed to the new unit currently in construction at the Rand Memorial Hospital site.
“As it relates to Grand Bahama and all other Family Islands, if the need arises, individuals will continue to be airlifted to New Providence where the increased capacity has been prepared for the care of patients,” he said.
Minnis also revealed plans to relocate 33 long-term boarders at PMH, noting many of them have heightened vulnerability to viral infections.
The prime minister noted the “regrettable practice” of leaving of elderly family members in the Emergency Department at PMH has given rise to recurrent long-term boarders.
Those boarders cost the government $491 per day, or $6 million per year, he said.
Minnis said an assessment team comprised of representatives from nursing, case management and hospital administration is examining sites to determine their suitability as a care center.
“The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Services will make the final necessary assessments and recommendations on accommodations to enable us to both further protect this vulnerable group, while making critical bed space available at PMH,” he said.