Barbados’ COVID situation is becoming so serious that the man at the helm of the country’s public health response has declared that his team can no longer maintain the entire operation.
As such, Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic is now enlisting the services of private medical facilities to service private COVID facilities including a new isolation hotel and the rollout of a mission-critical proposal for home isolations.
Addressing an impromptu media conference on Monday evening, Minister Bostic revealed that the public health system is not only running out of physical space to house the sick, but also the human resources to look after them.
“The recent surge and especially the last four or five days really has put us under some tremendous pressure where we are challenged at the moment and we do not think that we can sustain the current operation that we are mounting based on the use of institutionalised isolation facilities,” Bostic disclosed.
“And the Prime Minister would have hinted at this about a week ago where we are looking at some home isolation and home quarantine in some specific circumstances that we believe would allow us to be able to take some of the strain off of the institutional facilities. That is something that we have to move towards as soon as possible to be able to take the pressure off of the facilities,” the Health Minister added.
In addition to the main isolation facility at Harrison Point, St Lucy and the Blackman and Gollop Primary School, public health officials have commandeered the Lester Vaughn School, the Darryl Jordan School, Christ Church Foundation School and Queen’s College to accommodate the close to 200 new cases being identified daily in recent times.
More facilities, however, require more personnel, which the state-run system, that covers the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Psychiatric Hospital and many smaller facilities, do not have, even with the help of Cuban and Ghanaian nurses.
“I must tell you that yes, we are stretched at the moment because we still have to maintain services at the hospitals and that obviously is becoming a worry because we have to strike a balance to make sure that we do not fail to look after those persons in the hospital,” said Minister Bostic.
As a result, the ministry will be outsourcing private and home isolation facilities to private entities and contractors.
“We are still responsible for those facilities but they will be dealt with by private doctors, nurses and so on and we will work with them. But we needed that sort of assistance to really take some of the pressure off of the public healthcare system and I am very happy that some persons have stepped forward to assist us in that venture in the same way that we have private medical facilities and medical professionals who have come forward to assist us with swabbing and more recently with the vaccination programme,” Bostic disclosed.
The minister promised to provide further details on the home isolation proposal at a later date, but explained that like home and hotel quarantine, there would be two types of home/hotel isolation.
“We have always had some home quarantine and also isolation at some designated hotels and in some cases that would have been a private arrangement. We also have some isolation hotels that we are responsible for, which the Government funds, but there is a mixture and those details would be communicated shortly,” he said.
On Monday, Barbados recorded 188 new COVID cases bringing the total number to 1,062 in isolation.