Mon | Sep 20, 2021

Month-end deadline for UHWI field hospital

Published:Wednesday | September 15, 2021 | 12:09 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Workmen prepare to lay pipes as construction of the foundation for a field hospital continued near the Accident and Emergency Department of The University Hospital of the West Indies. The field hospital is expected to be completed by month end.
Workmen prepare to lay pipes as construction of the foundation for a field hospital continued near the Accident and Emergency Department of The University Hospital of the West Indies. The field hospital is expected to be completed by month end.

Construction of a 60-bed field hospital at The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) is “moving steadily” with a month-end completion deadline in sight.

The private-sector initiative is being spearheaded by group CEO of the RJRGLEANER Group, Gary Allen, and Chief Operating Officer Christopher Barnes.

A concrete base is being built as the foundation for 24 containers that will be strategically attached to the accident and emergency unit, said UHWI CEO Kevin Allen.

COVID-19 hospitalisations at the facility remain high, with 80 patients occupying beds and another 15 being treated in a driveway.

“We’re not happy with that situation. It’s no way to treat a citizen, and that is why I’m happy that the private sector has jumped in to assist,” he said.

Allen told The Gleaner that he will not be waiting on the “bells and whistles” to transfer the patients.

“As soon as we get the containers in place, we get the lighting in and the bathroom facilities there, I’m going to ask the clinicians to see how best we can work on getting the patients in and work in an active environment,” he said.

Allen could not speak definitively to the number of patients who require oxygen, but said there is no challenge with accessing the essential commodity.

“We work closely with the supplier, IGL, we have the cylinders, and we also have a plant where we push oxygen to the respective areas. IGL comes and does top-ups, so at any one point we will have up to four or five days of oxygen on site to take care of our patients,” he told The Gleaner.

The CEO said that nine out of every 10 COVID-19 patients who turn up to the hospital critically ill are unvaccinated.

He used the opportunity to urge Jamaicans to get vaccinated, as the virus does not discriminate.

Allen said daily deaths, inclusive of COVID-19 patients, averaged between two and three, and that has increased to five or six.

“It has caused us to partner with other mortuary institutions to help us to collect the bodies because we’re not able to store all these bodies at this present location,” he revealed.

On Monday, Jamaica recorded 536 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths.

The country’s positivity rate is 47.4 per cent.

Fatalities from the virus now stand at 1,736, while infections have moved to 76,987, with 24,659 active cases.

Some 805 persons are in hospital, with 235 being moderately ill, 152 severely ill, and 53 are critically ill.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com