Jamaica Observer:– MANDEVILLE, Manchester — With almost 145 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients, Mandeville Regional Hospital (MRH) has resorted to placing some of those patients on mattresses and makeshift bed spaces where available.
At the same time, the facility yesterday also depleted its liquid oxygen supply and had to revert to the use of cylinders.
Chief executive officer at regional facility Alwyn Miller told the Jamaica Observer that up to yesterday morning the hospital had about 40 suspected COVID-19 patients and almost 105 confirmed cases.
“The situation is this, all our isolation areas are full, wards that we have repurposed for the purpose of isolation are also full, so there is no other ward space that is available for COVID patients,” he said.
Yesterday a photograph of patients on mattresses on the floor, said to be inside the hospital, went viral on social media.
Miller explained why the patients had been moved to the outpatient department.
“As we did the other day when [Tropical Storm] Grace was passing, we had to move the patients indoors, and we used the outpatient department — which is the department that picture is depicting there now — to take the patients inside the building out of the inclement weather,” he said.
“We had a situation on Friday evening where we had 21 patients that were between the tent and the A&E [Accident and Emergency] Department. It is not practical for us to keep them in the A&E department and the tent, because we recognised that more people are coming in, and when they come in we have to make the space to triage them under the tent,” he added.
He explained that the moving of patients is temporary.
“They can’t stay in the A&E, because the numbers are just so much we can’t keep 21 people inside there; that’s an emergency room, so what we have done [is] we have moved them over to the outpatient department temporarily,” he said.
“We provided mattresses for them to lie on, you will see oxygen cylinders in the proximity…. That is a holding space prior to them being moved to the isolation ward when the space becomes available,” he added..
“In the interim, we have been working with some partners to get some lounge chairs and some other such facilities to help us to house the patients, but the fact of the matter is that there are a significant amount of COVID patients there and we have to try and accommodate them the best way we can,” he said.
“It is not unusual in emergency situations and mass casualties for patients to be put on mattresses on the floor. If you don’t have stretchers or beds, you use mattresses or whatever you have in order to accommodate the patients,” he added.
Jamaica on Saturday recorded 929 new COVID-19 cases and 21 more deaths, pushing the total number of confirmed cases on the island since the outbreak to 66,663 and the confirmed deaths to 1,504. There have been 48,095 recoveries.
Miller said the hospital is expecting deliveries of liquid oxygen.
“Our liquid oxygen was depleted [Saturday] evening; we are currently on backup supplies using cylinders, et cetera to support the various areas… We have to use cylinders to supplement and we have two backup tanks as well which we use to supplement. We are expecting that by tomorrow [today] we should get deliveries of liquid oxygen,” the hospital CEO said yesterday.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness, essentially confirming the Sunday Observer lead story concerning the shortage of oxygen across the island, said all hospitals were low in supply and some were out and had to be supplemented. At the same time, hospitalisations for COVID-19 stood at some 723, with 67 persons critically ill.
The ministry said it was in dialogue with oxygen suppliers IGL Limited, who are seeking to make deliveries of oxygen by Tuesday.
According to the health ministry, all hospitals – through the regional technical directors at the regional health authorities and senior medical officers – have, in the interim, been instructed on oxygen conservation while the island awaits the restoration of supplies.
“Of particular concern at this time are critically ill COVID-19 patients, as well as non-COVID-19 patients in need of high amounts of oxygen. Surgeries will also not be performed as patients will not be able to be ventilated without oxygen,” said a release from the health ministry.
IGL, the country’s only supplier of oxygen, said it expects shipments of the product to arrive in Jamaica today and tomorrow from Trinidad, United States and Costa Rica. The company said demand was exceeding its production capability because of the severe impact of the novel coronavirus on health facilities.
The ministry said it was doing everything possible to provide the best possible care for all patients until oxygen stores can be restored, and encouraged members of the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
It also urged the public to remain vigilant in their adherence to infection prevention and control measures; notably, mask wearing, maintaining a physical distance from others, and frequently washing and/or sanitising hands.