Prime Minister Minnis announces plan to increase hospital bed capacity

Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis today announced a strategy to increase the country’s hospital bed capacity to accommodate the increase in the number of COVID-19 patients and demand on the healthcare system.

In a National Address on Sunday 9 August, the Prime Minister also announced the resumption of normal commercial and social activities on the islands of Mayaguana; Inagua; Crooked Island; Acklins; Long Cay; Rum Cay; Ragged Island; and Long Island.

As part of the strategy to make available more beds at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), the Public Hospitals Authority is looking to relocate 33 PMH boarders to private facilities, said Prime Minister Minnis. 

 A National Response Facility will also be established in the east wing of Breezes Super Clubs to treat non-COVID-19 “low medical care” patients, and Doctors Hospital West is increasing its bed capacity to help address the need.

“The relocation from the Princess Margaret Hospital of boarders and the establishment of the national response facility off site will make available more beds so that COVID-19 patients can be more easily accommodated at PMH,” said the Prime Minister.

“The combined strategy to increase bed capacity in the public and private healthcare systems will result in an increase of approximately 80 patient beds at this time.” 

Moving forward, clinical management of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases will be treated at the South Beach Health Centre (moderate presentation); PMH (severe to moderate presentation) and Doctors Hospital West (severe to moderate presentation).

PMH will continue the management of medical and surgical patients at the main hospital.

On Grand Bahama, the Cancer Society building has been retrofitted to house infectious diseases patients, including COVID-19 patients, and a new unit is being construction on the site of the Rand Memorial Hospital, said the Prime Minister.

If the need arises, individuals from Grand Bahama and the Family Islands will continue to be airlifted to New Providence where the increased capacity has been prepared for the care of patients.

To address urgent matters related to the country’s contact tracing program, the Government has established a Contact Tracing Command Centre at the Melia Hotel.

The Centre is manned by a group of Public Health experts with support from the Surveillance Unit, National Health Insurance program, other government ministries and agencies, and private partnerships, including Aliv and the Melia hotel.

This Centre will strengthen the Surveillance Unit’s ability to identify new cases and contacts, and to intervene with the appropriate measures.

“Health officials anticipate an increase in the number of new cases over a short period of time,” said Prime Minister Minnis.

“A decrease in new cases is anticipated once all new cases and contacts have been identified.

It is important that members of the public cooperate fully and honestly if they are contacted by the Surveillance Unit.”

The Prime Minister said that based on the advice of health officials, normal commercial and social activity, including church services and the opening of beaches and parks, may resume on Mayaguana; Inagua; Crooked Island; Acklins; Long Cay; Rum Cay; Ragged Island; and Long Island, effective 5am Monday, the 10th of August:

“The lockdown and curfew have been lifted for these islands because health officials have not recorded any suspected COVID-19 activity at these locations for at least two weeks,” said Prime Minister Minnis.

“Though there are no confirmed cases on San Salvador, there is a travel-related swab pending test results. Further assessment is required for this island before it can be given the all clear.”

Travel between the islands where the lockdown has been lifted will be permitted without the COVID-19 testing and 14-day quarantine requirements that are outlined in the Emergency Powers Order.

The Government, guided by the advice of health officials, will continue to monitor and assess COVID-19 developments on each island and determine, on a case by case basis, when it is safe to relax measures, said the Prime Minister.