Fri | Dec 4, 2020

COVID prescreening for out-of-country patients

Published:Monday | April 27, 2020 | 12:25 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer

The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) will continue to accept critically ill patients from the Caribbean, but COVID-19 status will now become a prerequisite to action in the wake of exposure of senior medical and nursing personnel to the virus more than a week ago.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said last week that Jamaica has a long and established tradition with other Caribbean islands to not only receive patients who are critically ill but provide support in training, research, and treatment.

“Given that many of the territories of the region have no expert clinical capacity, we have to give consideration to matters that could be detrimental to life. I therefore think each case should be considered on that basis,” Tufton told The Gleaner.

“However, we will need to improve the prescreening process to ensure we know the COVID status if we admit a patient from the region.”

The Victoria Jubilee Hospital receives all critically ill maternal cases from the region, while the Kingston Public Hospital has all-round expertise, especially in orthopaedics.

Many hospitals in the region have several high-level personnel trained in the medical programme offered at The University of the West Indies.

Just over a week ago, it became public that the staffers were exposed after the Jamaican Government, on humanitarian grounds, allowed the UHWI to admit a patient from the Turks and Caicos Islands who was deemed critically ill.

The patient arrived by air ambulance after developing complications from surgery done in March by the same hospital.

The patient, upon undergoing emergency surgery, tested positive for the new coronavirus.

A senior UHWI surgeon has self-quarantined since.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com