Doctors Hospital on ‘war footing’

Patients vetted for virus symptoms

Nurse Shanna Gay Grant and Dr. Zanele Balang run through coronavirus vetting procedures at the CTMH Doctors Hospital
Nurse Shanna Gay Grant and Dr. Zanele Balang run through coronavirus vetting procedures at the CTMH Doctors Hospital. - Photo: Dr. Yaron Rado

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CTMH Doctors Hospital is on a “war footing” as it prepares to do its part to keep the Cayman Islands safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A perimeter has been established around the hospital and anyone who enters is being vetted by nurses in protective masks to establish if they have symptoms consistent with the virus.

Dr. Yaron Rado, the chairman of the hospital board, said the 18-bed private facility was also cancelling elective surgeries and focusing on emergencies.

He said it was already dealing with cardiac patients that would ordinarily have gone to Health City, which was forced to close after a patient tested positive for coronavirus and subsequently died.

He expects the initial role of CTMH Doctors Hospital to be to pick up the slack for non-coronavirus-related emergencies as the Health Services Authority takes the primary role in dealing with any outbreak.

“People still get appendicitis, they still get a gall bladder, there are still all kinds of other emergencies,” Rado said.

“We are not preparing to offer coronavirus services at the moment until the other systems start to get overloaded.”

He said the main aim of social distancing and other restrictions was to slow the rate at which the virus spreads and prevent health services from becoming overwhelmed.

Rado said his staff were in constant dialogue with the Health Services Authority about what the private facility could do in support.

The hospital donated 10 beds, from its own storage, to the HSA this week and are prepared to take patients as necessary.

“Cardiac, chemo, maternity, emergency surgeries. We will take those patients. We are going to do everything we can to help the system,” he added.

Jennifer Williams, chief nurse at the hospital, said no visitors would be able to enter and people using the pharmacy will have their drugs brought to them at the curb.

She said staff were being asked to strictly follow social distancing guidelines to keep them virus-free and able to perform their duties.

Rado said the greatest threat was not the pandemic itself but its potential impact on the health system if it spreads too quickly.

He said Cayman’s government had acted quickly and the island was ahead of the threat.

“This is a national emergency and we are treating it as a national emergency … We are ahead of the curve.”

He said Cayman has a strong, first-world healthcare system and is equipped, with the right planning and the right measures in place, to respond to the threat posed by the virus.

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