Sat | Dec 3, 2022

COVID bed space running out in Manchester

Published:Tuesday | February 9, 2021 | 12:23 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

With only five vacant beds on the COVID-19 ward at the Mandeville Regional Hospital and only 42 available across south-central Jamaica, the health authorities say they might have to turn to other parishes for help if the number of positive cases...

With only five vacant beds on the COVID-19 ward at the Mandeville Regional Hospital and only 42 available across south-central Jamaica, the health authorities say they might have to turn to other parishes for help if the number of positive cases and people requiring hospitalisation keep climbing.

Michael Bent, regional director at the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA), said the occupancy level of the bed spaces across the five hospitals in the parishes of Manchester, St Elizabeth and Clarendon is cause for concern.

“Within the southern region, we have approximately 98 COVID-19 beds and over 50 beds are occupied. If we exhaust [spaces in] Manchester, then we will have to maybe look at other parishes, but we hope that doesn’t have to be the case,” he said.

In recent weeks, Manchester has emerged as a parish of concern with a spike in COVID-19 cases. As at February 7, the parish had recorded 1,122 of the island’s 17,298 cases since last March, the fifth highest number of cases by geographical region.

“It’s not a good sign … . We will maybe have to look at the national capacities to see where beds are available, but we are hoping we don’t have to reach that point. Our hope is that nationally it will go down,” said Bent. “We will have to look at other facilities, such as the field hospitals.”

As the number of cases rise, residents and business owners are concerned that a lockdown could cripple the parish economically.

“I wish people would just do better because the extreme measure of lockdown is going to set us back,” a worried business operator said.

Mandeville Mayor Donovan Mitchell also urged adherence to established protocols to drive the numbers down.

“We just have to keep educating people. I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t know if we will have to have a lockdown and see what has worked for other countries … ,” he told The Gleaner.

Mitchell say police patrols will now have to be further intensified to ensure that every possible area is monitored.

The commanding officer for the Manchester Police Division, Superintendent Gary Francis, could not immediately provide details on the number of unauthorised parties that have been busted and the number of persons prosecuted under the Disaster Risk Management Act, but stressed that the police are doing their duties daily.

“The most recent interruption was last night (Sunday). We went into an area in Porus and we prosecuted some persons. We continue to do this on a daily basis,” he said.

It has been a cat-and-mouse game, he said, pointing out that sometimes people get notified that the police are coming and shut down events and disperse before the cops arrive.

editorial@gleanerjm.com

Breakdown of COVID-19 bed spaces in south-central Jamaica

• Mandeville Regional Hospital – 15 occupied, 5 available

• Percy Junor Hospital – 6 occupied, 10 available

• May Pen Hospital – 19 occupied, 7 available

• Lionel Town Hospital – 7 occupied, 4 available

• Black River – 7 occupied, 16 available