Wells: Govt. to build health capacity during lull in cases

Wells: Govt. to build health capacity during lull in cases
Minister of Health Renward Wells.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Health Renward Wells said yesterday that the government is moving to increase its health capacity during the current “lull” in hospitalized COVID-19 cases.

As of Thursday, there were 23 hospitalized cases — 14 on New Providence and nine on Grand Bahama.

Health officials said the rate of hospitalized cases continues to slow down and decline, with the positivity rate currently standing at 17 percent.

However, as the country loosens lockdown restrictions and reopens for tourism, the prime minister has warned that cases are expected to increase.

Asked about the government’s building capacity to prepare for the eventual climb, Wells noted that the ministry has an “aggressive infrastructural program” and they are moving to bring on stream at least two wards at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), as well as the repairs made to Rand Memorial Hospital on Grand Bahama.

“We are preparing during this lull to create as much more bed space as possible, to lay a foundation not just for COVID and this pandemic, but for future pandemics and to basically enhance the overall healthcare apparatus in the country to be able to address any issue that we see in the future,” he said.

Wells could not indicate at the time when the repairs to those PMH wards will be completed, insisting that he will advise on a timeline at the next update.

In October, the prime minister indicated that the increasing number of novel coronavirus cases in the country, particularly on New Providence, created an immense strain and a risk of collapse to the healthcare system.

Health professionals began sounding the alarm early on in the pandemic over the capacity of healthcare institutions and the inability to support an influx of hospitalized cases.

In August, regular emergency patients and the suspected COVID-19 patient population were being intermingled at PMH as healthcare workers sought to provide care to all patients.

Last month, NGO Samaritan’s Purse set up a 28-bed tent facility outside of PMH to isolate and care for positive cases.

Operation of the Samaritan’s Purse facility was recently handed over to the staff at the hospital, including medical equipment, personal protective equipment and other supplies.

The COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Unit has been renamed the Special Pathogens Unit of PMH.