COVID-19: Hospitals In Jamaica Overwhelmed

There is another imminent threat to Jamaica’s public health system, as COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations increase. Hospitals have surpassed their capacity to treat COVID-19 patients, with reports of people being allegedly turned away. 

Our news team received reports of persons seeking medical attention at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and allegedly being turned away due to the lack of beds. In a statement from the hospital on Monday, it says “..the facility is at its capacity, and as such, patients were being referred to other COVID-19 centres.”

There are plans afoot to re-purpose another ward to facilitate the increasing numbers. The hospital, however, dismissed claims of turning away persons who were non-COVID-19 related. Meanwhile, the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St. James has detailed plans to increase its capacity.

A section of the facility will also be re-purposed. Senior Medical Officer at the facility, Derek Harvey says some elective surgeries may have to be postponed to focus on urgent and emergency cases. 

On Sunday, February 21, Jamaica had up to 2-hundred and 67 persons hospitalized due to the virus, 43 are moderately ill and 18 are in critical condition.

Meanwhile, the President of the Jamaica Medical Doctor’s Association, Dr. Mindi Fitz Henley is seeking clarity as to how doctors will be staffed at the field hospitals that will come on stream in short order to accommodate the overflow of COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Fitz Henley also responded to reports of medical interns at the Mandeville Regional Hospital being scheduled to conduct COVID-19 swabs without being fit-tested for adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).