(Barbados Today) – A spike of COVID-19 cases at the Psychiatric Hospital has been complicated by a disturbing trend of staff members refusing to be tested for the virus, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George.
As the cluster of cases reaches 50 – 49 males and one female – Dr George revealed: “There has been some reluctance on the part of some members of staff at the Psychiatric Hospital to get tested.
Declining the test leads to an extension of quarantine from five days to two weeks to rule out infection.
“I am just imploring you that if we are to get to the true bottom of the situation in the Psychiatric Hospital, we need the cooperation of all staff.”
When asked what would be the actions taken in response, Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic said that despite the unwillingness of staff, all
COVID-19 quarantine protocols would be followed.
He told journalists: “The testing protocol is very simple, and this goes for everyone. If are deemed by the public health officials to be a primary contact, in other words, that you had a level of exposure where it is possible that you might contract the virus, and you do not want to take the test, then you have to serve the full 14 days in quarantine.
“That has happened to people before who opted not to be tested so that in a situation where a person might have been able to spend five days in quarantine with a negative test on day five or after, and then that person would have been allowed to leave quarantine; if you are not tested, you spend the full 14 days in quarantine.”
Lt Col Bostic also said that in recognizing the need for patients to be tended to by trained mental health professionals, the ministry felt it was best to isolate the patients there, with the staff who are specially trained to handle the mentally ill.
The health minister explained: “The reason why we would have made the decision for example to establish an isolation facility at the Psychiatric Hospital, is for that very reason.
“The persons in quarantine at the Psychiatric Hospital and in isolation, are being dealt with by the staff members who are trained and deal with them on a daily basis. It’s their clients. So it’s not as difficult as one might have imagined because they are within the facility that is designated, and with the trained staff to deal with those persons.”