Police officers have been stationed at the Harrison’s Point and Blackman and Gollop isolation facilities to protect frontline workers who are attending to steady increases in COVID-19 cases.
Executive chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland revealed that the facility has been able to get the support of the Royal Barbados Police Force to deploy personnel at the St Lucy and Christ Church centres and consideration is also being given to deploying officers at the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department (A&ED).
Last week, Head of Infection Prevention at QEH Dr Corey Forde condemned the “disrespect” and “abuse” shown to frontline workers at Harrison’s Point. They were finding it difficult to work under the circumstances, he explained, where they are being recorded by tourists receiving treatment.
Bynoe-Sutherland told Barbados TODAY that the move to have police stationed at the facilities was necessary in order to allow Dr Forde and his staff the right to work without being “molested” by threatening behaviour.
“We have a zero-tolerance to violence against staff at all of our facilities. Having the police presence would allow a real-time response to incidents as they occur,” she said.
Noting the challenges which may form part of the treatment and care in the present environment, the hospital head indicated that authorities were aware that a person who has to be rushed to the A&E is often stressed and frustrated as they face an uncertain situation. She said depending on the symptoms they present with at the A&E and what is found in the screening questionnaires, they are triaged to the respiratory section of A&E where they receive a COVID-19 test.
She explained that the hospital’s management understands that the wait for test results adds additional fear and anxiety.
“At Harrison’s Point, for many persons who receive a COVID-19 positive diagnosis and are asked to be dispatched to an isolation centre, this can also provide uncertainty at the prospect of an extended stay at an isolation centre. In both instances, although we understand the experiences that people are having, we say there is no excuse for bad behaviour and our staff at Harrison’s Point and at A&E deserve to be treated with respect,” she said.
Bynoe-Sutherland gave the assurance that the A&E department has the appropriate protective equipment for staff to be able to attend to and treat emergency conditions of presenting patients.
“At Harrison’s Point, we provided amenities such as outdoor facilities, a recreation room, television, video games for children to ensure that persons can be appropriately recreated while we monitor the progress of the disease for those that are asymptomatic,” she added.
Meanwhile, Dr Forde told Barbados TODAY that staff at both isolation facilities are pleased to have the presence of the police officers to make them feel safer and to be available and ready to offer assistance if needed.
“The staff is happy for the continuous support of the Royal Barbados Police Force. It is not like they weren’t available to us, because they were always available and always around and on-call but being on site gives another level of peace in terms of security.
“They were always on the ground from the first outbreak at Blackman and Gollop. Their addition at Harrison’s Point is a welcomed part of our security measures at the facility,” Dr Forde said.