Mon | Jan 30, 2023

A nurse's agony: Struggling patient gets oxygen only after another dies

Published:Sunday | August 29, 2021 | 8:43 PM
At the Mandeville Regional Hospital patients are being accommodated on mattress on the floor in a section of the facility where clinics are usually held.
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Damion Mitchell/Integration Editor

A nurse at a major hospital in Jamaica has detailed a sombre Saturday night treating a COVID patient battling for life amid a shortage of medical oxygen.

She told The Gleaner that her patient almost passed out but was saved only after another died and she got the oxygen the deceased left behind.

"How things going now with the lack of beds and oxygen, we basically just have to wait until someone dies to get the bed or the oxygen for another patient," she said.

The nurse is not permitted to speak to the media and so her identity and her hospital cannot be disclosed.

She said at the facility, every ward is now accommodating COVID patients.

"Everybody mix up... positive, negative and suspected… Pray to God no one for you gets admitted now because it is spreading on the wards too," she said.

Jamaica has been facing a chronic shortage of oxygen since Friday with many public facilities either very low or entirely out of supplies.

IGL, Jamaica's only medical oxygen producer, has said its production is at maximum capacity, but demand is outstripping supply.

Three shipments of the commodity are expected in Jamaica by Tuesday which should ease the supply shortage.

In the meantime, COVID patients requiring oxygen continues to climb.

As at Saturday, there were 728 COVID patients in hospital. Eighty-eight were severely ill and 67 critical, meaning they require oxygenation among other treatments.

Scores more suspected to be COVID positive are also hospitalised on oxygen as they await their test results.

The health minister has said, where possible, hospital administrators are moving around oxygen cylinders from one facility to another.

Meanwhile, bed spaces remain exhausted at some hospitals.

At the Mandeville Regional Hospital, for example, patients are being accommodated on mattresses on the floor in a section of the facility where clinics are usually held.

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