NCRHA: 188 new Isolation Ward Beds to treat with COVID-19 cases
Members of the NCRHA team at a planning meeting before the start of refurbishment works on the Isolation Wards three weeks ago
The Ministry of Health has directed the North Central Regional Health Authority to bring more than 188 new isolation ward beds online, as the public health sector prepares for a surge in new cases over the next few weeks.
This was in response to the recent experience of Italy, the US and other jurisdictions in dealing with the spread of the COVID-19.
Teams of NCRHA staff have worked tirelessly at the Caura Hospital over the past two weeks to bring 100 new beds online to facilitate additional quarantine Wards.
NCRHA’s Chief Executive Officer, Davlin Thomas, said the Authority started with just four beds and within a week, the team was able to refurbish beds (repair, repaint etc) and building to bring another 24 online as well as install new systems for electrical, plumbing, oxygen and other infrastructure required for these wards.
Just a few days later, working around the clock, the team further expanded the available space to accommodate 51 beds as some were repaired and purchased for the facility.
Thomas stated that last week, the team continued to work without pause to install new plumbing and infrastructure for another 24 beds to bring the total to 75 by March 20, 2020.
“While you sleep my staff and I are currently on-site working over the weekend and will continue into Wednesday when we expect to reach our target of generating more than 100 beds and its supporting infrastructure in an expanded isolation zone at the Caura Hospital.
The isolation facility at the Caura Hospital currently has three separate toilets and three shower stalls within each of the newly created male and female wards. Yesterday, our team identified a problem with one of the toilets (a minor leak) and the repair was completed just as the TV6 story was being run.”
Thomas further said the team at the Couva Hospital also prepared another 88 beds through aggressive procurement and the installation of additional infrastructure for mitigating against possible cross-infection, infusion pumps, installation and commissioning of critical care equipment and infection control systems as the basis for this country’s courageous stand against the increasing threat of COVID-19.
“I understand that since March 5, these patients have been subjected to varying levels of quarantine and restrictions in their movement, but our COVID-19 response implies that it’s not business as usual. We have to be responsible to prevent exposure to our staff and to avoid germinating inaccurate information.”
“Thanks to the diligence of our staff, we have been blessed to have no COVID-19 deaths. We will continue to build capacity in defence of the nation to ensure preparedness in the event of any dramatic rise in the number of suspected or confirmed cases,” Thomas said.
Meanwhile, the NCRHA CEO addressed the autopsy that was conducted in Arima in which COVID-19 was referenced. He said the doctor was simply providing instructions for the pathologist just as a precautionary measure while performing the autopsy. Thomas said the situation has also required the Authority to review some of its procedures and protocols as it was forced to dismiss one of the agencies that have provided support for many years for breaching patient confidentiality. He apologized for the breach noting that it occurred at the funeral home that was entrusted with the responsibility of transporting the body of the deceased.
Thomas said old systems are being reviewed and new updated procedures will address any future concerns regarding releasing information on dead bodies.
The Chief Executive Officer also pleaded with the media to maintain their meaningful and positive ethos in the face of the global challenge that COVID19 presents.
“My staff are risking their health and wellbeing in a real-life battle of epic proportions. It's unfair to call them from the few moments of rest that they get these days to check and recheck toilets that are clearly working."
"I myself am generating this response to those erroneous reports of poor conditions and no toilets at 1.00 am this morning. This is the only pause that the battle allows me, and then it’s back into the storm,” Thomas chuckled, “I guess the photos will speak for themselves.”
He acknowledged the phone calls, text messages of prayers and support provided by the national community including the Prime Minister, Pastor Ralph from Victorious Faith Ministries, former Permanent Secretaries including Dr Efebo Wilkinson, the Chairman, Board and staff of the NCRHA, members of the business community, members of the entertainment community and some concerned members of the press who have expressed their encouragement and blessings to our staff.
“We will make it through this together, no dry season ever lasts forever, this too shall come to pass and we the NCRHA will not sleep until it does,” Thomas said.