(Trinidad Express) – The Ministry of Health is warning that if COVID-19 cases continue to surge, the parallel healthcare system will soon be overwhelmed.
Speaking at a COVID-19 news conference on Saturday, Principal Medical Officer – Institutions Dr. Maryam Abdool-Richards outlined that hospital occupancy rates have grown significantly over the past weeks. Last week, she said, occupancy had reached 50 per cent while numbers at the Intensive and High Dependency Units continue to climb. .
“We have noticed especially in the past week the percentage and the overall occupancy of the hospital system increased to a maximum of 50 per cent. We have also noted a significant increase in the occupancy of the ward level patients which is between 37 and 50 per cent in the middle of the week. The ICU rates have also increased going up to 40 per cent as well as High Dependency rates going up to 25 per cent,” she said.
She added that approximately ten per cent of all cases require hospitalization. While the system admits 10 patients for every 100, only two are discharged. As a result, she said, there is a net gain of eight persons.
“Now it is important to note that the parallel healthcare system is a resilient system that was the Ministry of Health; s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, given the increasing number of cases on a daily basis, roughly the rolling average over the past seven days is somewhere in the vicinity one 191 cases per day we need to remember that approximately 10 per cent of cases will require hospitalization at the hospital bed.”
“That means for every 100 positive cases, 10 people need to be admitted to a hospital in the parallel healthcare system. It means as well in terms of how ill these patients are and the severity of their condition, that even though we are admitting 10 persons for every 100 we are only discharging two for every 100. There is a net gain of eight persons for 100 positive cases…If we continue on this trend especially given the recent number of 326 per day, we will not have the parallel healthcare system available when we really need a bed for yourself, for your coworker, for your family and others,” she said.
As a result, she said the Ministry has decided to reactivate the Arima Hospital which was previously commissioned in February due to low caseloads. 67 beds will be added to this facility as well as to the Couva Hospital. Additionally, the Augustus Long facility, run under the South West Regional Health Authority will be converted to deal with confirmed positive cases.
“Yesterday we reactivated and operationalized the Arima General Hospital and added 67 additional beds to the grid. It is important to note that overnight 10 of those beds were used up. Between yesterday afternoon and this morning, we had 10 persons being admitted into that facility, We have also increased and operationalized additional beds at the Couva Medical and Multi-training facility.
At the Augustus long hospital which is run by the SWRHA has now been transitioned to treat confirmed covid positive cases. As of 10 am this morning, the overall hospital occupancy is 24 per cent but that decrease is only because we added 67 beds, at Arima and another 50 at Couva which increases the overall capacity of the system,” said Richards.