Sat | Feb 27, 2021

‘Red alert’…13 hospitals exceed COVID isolation capacity

Published:Tuesday | February 23, 2021 | 2:30 PM
In the last week, Jamaica added 2,818 new COVID-19 cases and saw hospitalisations move from 245 to 270 patients positive for COVID-19.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says the present state of COVID-19 hospitalisations have become alarming with 13 of the 22 hospitals across Jamaica at red alert.

Tufton explains that this means that these facilities have a greater than 84% occupancy level for their isolation capacity.

Nine of the 13 hospitals are at 100% or greater capacity, he disclosed.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Tufton disclosed that in the last week, Jamaica added 2,818 new COVID-19 cases and saw hospitalisations move from 245 to 270 patients positive for COVID-19.

Tufton says steps have been taken to address the capacity issues.

Hospitals at isolation capacity

* Cornwall Regional Hospital
* Falmouth
* Annotto Bay
* Port Maria
* Mandeville Regional Hospital
* May Pen
* Kingston Public
* Princess Margaret
* Spanish Town

Response to hospitalisation

Increase in bed count:

In addition to the field hospital spaces, the government will be adding an additional 20 beds at the National Chest Hospital and another 25 beds at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

To further increase capacity, field hospitals are being built at Falmouth Public General Hospital in Trelawny, at St Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Centre in St Andrew, and at the Mandeville Regional Hospital in Manchester.

The 40-bed field hospital that was originally sited at the National Chest Hospital is being moved to Spanish Town.

The Ministry of Health & Wellness had initiated an arrangement with the Andrews Memorial Hospital for the accommodation of overflow of non-COVID patients. This arrangement will now come into effect and fine-tuning of the transfer protocols are to be made.

Increasing staffing

The expansion of staff will be done over time and the health and wellness ministry will then make further assessments, taking into consideration any changes in hospitalisations and capacity.

Each regional health authority has been instructed to hire additional staff based on their needs assessment.

The hiring of additional staff is extremely important and comes against the background of Jamaica losing nurses to overseas recruitment.

In fact, Jamaica has already lost 42 nurses from the UHWI since January.

The Ministry is strongly encouraging people with the necessary skills, whether retirees or other qualified individuals to reach out to the regional health authorities.

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