By Shermain Bique-Charles
With active Covid-19 infections in Antigua and Barbuda nearing 1,000, one leading hospital official has painted a grim picture of the situation at Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre.
The latest wave of the crisis, which the country’s top health officials have described as a pandemic of the unvaccinated, has been underpinned by the highly contagious Delta variant.
The hospital’s Medical Director, Dr Albert Duncan, said there are currently six people in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), requiring serious manpower.
“All of them are vented. All are requiring a lot of time. There are three on the ward who are on the brink of requiring ICU care, with no form of ICU bed capability in the hospital, so we would have to try to make room for them someplace else,” he said.
He said it takes on average a six-man team to manage a single Covid-19 patient, excluding doctors.
“They require cleaners, nurses, ward assistants and the orderlies. It is a monumental task. Two-thirds of the Emergency Room is dedicated for Covid patients and those suspected to have the disease.
“This takes a strain on the other diseases that we must treat on an ongoing basis in the hospital,” he revealed.
Dr Duncan also spoke of the hospital’s recent suspension of several services, putting residents at a disadvantage.
“We were forced to cancel elective surgeries and only do emergency surgeries, and at the time pretty much forced to curtail most of the activities in the hospital system that does not have anything to do with Covid or urgent care,” he said.
The hospital has also halted laboratory and radiology services.
“It is a real herculean task. I want to thank all the people involved. Every time you walk into the Emergency Room, they [staff] seemed battered and bruised. The ICU ward is chaos with care.
“Every single room something happens all the time,” he added.
Earlier this month, a number of nurses spoke to Observer about feeling overworked and concerned for their own health in the face of spiralling virus cases and deaths.