Fri | Jan 28, 2022

29 deaths in 8 days as COVID rattles Westmoreland

Published:Tuesday | August 17, 2021 | 12:09 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Moses Chybar
Moses Chybar

WESTERN BUREAU: With 29 deaths between August 8 and 15 and some 300 new COVID-19 cases over the past five days, the authorities are now seeking to establish a field hospital in Westmoreland as the pressure mounts on the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital,...

WESTERN BUREAU:

With 29 deaths between August 8 and 15 and some 300 new COVID-19 cases over the past five days, the authorities are now seeking to establish a field hospital in Westmoreland as the pressure mounts on the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital, where some 54 patients have been waiting days on chairs for beds.

“The plan is that we are going to have to look towards a field hospital,” Camille Lewin, CEO of the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital, told The Gleaner yesterday. “The ministry is in a discussion about getting one set up here because we expect that the numbers will go up based on what we are seeing.”

According to Lewin, the hospital, which has a capacity for 205 beds, had some 301 patients at last count, including 54 patients awaiting beds.

“The situation is so dynamic that in the blink of an eye things can change. This morning when I got to work, there were 69 [COVID-19] patients. I then went into a meeting and the number climbed to 76, and before the meeting ended, I was at 78,” Lewin explained yesterday.

“People are sitting for four days on a chair and that is the reality of it, notwithstanding that you have patients dying,” she added.

The hospital had originally established 18 bed-spaces to handle COVID-19 cases, but up to yesterday had 78 patients admitted with the illness.

Social patients

The problem with space is compounded by the 24 social patients now occupying much-needed bed-space.

“I have people who have been discharged since 2005, but are still in the hospital, so now if I can have these 24 to go to their homes, I would have 24 additional beds for COVID patients,” she said.

As it relates to oxygen, which is part of the critical intervention for patients in respiratory distress, Lewin said there is no challenge in that area at this time.

Key figures in the western parish are now deeply concerned about the situation, with one recommending tighter restrictions to stem the current spike.

“It’s frightening and I think that we should get some special treatment, in terms of locking us down or tightening our movements because things are not looking good for the parish at all,’’ said Custos Hartley Perrin, who has already lost family members and friends to the coronavirus. “It’s very concerning and could be disastrous.”

While mindful of the negative impact tighter measures could have on businesses in the parish, Moses Chybar, president of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce, says his members are willing to support whatever strategies are implemented to address the crisis.

“Our first choice, however, is for stricter enforcement, and a bigger push for more persons to work from home,” said Chybar. “We must reduce the numbers for a gathering, revert to where it was before, and continue the push for persons to be vaccinated.”

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