The Cayman Islands Hospital will stay open throughout Hurricane Gustav, although there is a chance some elective procedures and outpatients services will be cancelled or reschedules, officials have said.
Ambulance services will be halted once the Cayman Islands begins to experience tropical storm force winds, and anyone needing emergency medical assistance should call 911 for assistance, advised hospital Public Relations Officer, Caswell Walford.
‘We will be there right up to that point but once tropical storm force winds begin we stop ambulance services, for the safety of our staff, our vehicles and for the patient,’ he said.
Out on the Brac, officials said Wednesday they expected Faith Hospital to move the bulk of its services to the Aston Rutty Centre on the Bluff, which has a dedicated medical wing. ‘That is likely to start as early as [Thursday] morning. It could be between two and four patients,’ said District Commissioner Ernie Scott.
Mr. Walford asked that residents make the job of ambulance crews easier by ensuring house numbers are clearly identified on residences, particularly if the number has been covered over with shuttering or plywood.
‘While we want people to ensure that their house is secure, if they have to cover their house numbers, it is recommended their use spray-paint to put their house number on the plywood or shuttering,’ he explained.
Hospital officials are urging residents not to treat the facility as a hurricane shelter, warning it could interrupt their ability to provide crucial medical services. ‘We don’t have the capacity to act as a hurricane shelter – we are a primary care provider.’
Mr. Walford said pregnant women should make preparations early if there is a chance they could give birth during the storm. Women whose gestation period is 36 weeks or more, or who have been identified by their doctor as having a high risk pregnancy, must be pre-registered for delivery in order to be accepted during a hurricane, Mr. Walford noted.
He called on anyone reliant on prescription medication to ensure they have sufficient supplies and that they call a Health Services Authority district clinic or the Cayman Islands Hospital Pharmacy on 244-2715 if they do not.
Patient’s dependant on life sustaining medication or equipment that may require overseas medical care should ensure all travel documents are in order and funds available for travel, he added.
As Gustav approached, Mr. Walford said officials are confident that the hospital is ready for the storm, with back-up generators tested, systems checked and additional medical, dietary and other supplies stocked.
Like members of the public do, the hospital stocks up on medications, supplies, food and water and extra batteries — but on a grander scale, he said.
‘We’re required to maintain a certain amount, no matter what. … We have to be able to function for a minimum of three months, without any rationing,’ he noted.
Mr. Walford emphasised the importance of preparing early: ‘We cannot stress enough the importance of being prepared and developing a plan of action before the need arises, particularly for people and their families who have special needs, are homebound, or are expecting a baby’ he said.
The Health Services offers the following advice to residents as part of their preparedness planning:
Patient’s dependant on life sustaining medication or equipment that may require overseas medical care should ensure all travel documents are in order and funds available for travel.
Patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, asthma, lung diseases or hypertension that require additional medication should check now to ensure you have sufficient supplies. If you require additional supplies please contact the nearest District Health Centre or the Cayman Islands Hospital Pharmacy for refills. Call 244-2715 giving your full name, name of the medication(s) and the prescription number(s).
Pregnant women whose gestation period is 36 weeks or more, or who have been identified by their physician as having a high risk pregnancy, must be pre-registered for delivery in order to be accepted during a hurricane.
Prepare a current list of all prescriptions and prenatal vitamins you are taking. Put this list in sealable plastic bag then in a secure place among the belongings you plan to take with you if you leave your home.
• Bring at least a two week supply of all medications with you if you choose to relocate or go to a shelter during a storm;
• When possible, always bring medications in their original prescription bottle. When a hurricane threatens, the Cayman Islands Hospital usually extends its opening hours to refill medications but you must have the original bottle.
• Place your medications in a sealable plastic bag to keep them dry and protect the information on the label in case you need to obtain refills.
• Make sure you have an additional supply of equipment needed to administer medications. For example, if you are diabetic bring your insulin, testing equipment and supplies; while those with asthma may need a nebulizer.
Call your doctor
Communicate with your doctor to let them know where you will be; if you plan to leave town bring a copy of your medical records including prenatal record, immunisations, and current medications with you;
• Make sure that your doctor has a current telephone number of where you will be staying;
• If you had or are having complications in your pregnancy, check with your doctor to discuss whether it is safe for you to leave prior to the storm or if it would be better for you to go to a hospital or general shelter during the storm;
• If you have a chronic medical condition or pregnancy related complication and decide to leave home, it will be extremely important to bring your current medications, your recently updated medical record information, and the name and telephone number of your health care provider to assure proper treatment should you need it.
• If you choose to go to a shelter you will need to bring a few personal items. Remember to bring your prenatal vitamins, medications, and any medical supplies or equipment.