Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Bermuda Hospitals Board has announced both the suspension of non-urgent, elective surgery and the introduction of visitor restrictions to all BHB facilities.
Suspension of Non-Urgent, Elective Surgery
The BHB website said, “Bermuda Hospitals Board today announces the suspension of non-urgent, elective surgery as it prepares for a potential increased number of critically ill patients with COVID-19. This will allow for surgical and operating theatre staff to be upskilled and trained in the basics of critical care management as rapidly as possible. Emergency and urgent, including cancer, surgeries will continue.
Dr Richmond, Chief of Staff, comments: “We do not take this step lightly and apologise to elective surgery patients who will no doubt feel frustration, anxiety and upset. We are, however, facing an unprecedented situation. As an island we do not have access to a bank of staff to just bring in to work, so we are looking to maximise the resources we have to care for the most critically ill who may come to us. We do not have confirmed COVID-19 cases yet in Bermuda, but we have to prepare in case they do come and in case the situation escalates quickly, as has happened elsewhere. We cannot wait to start the training. At the moment it is unknown when the worst will be over, so unfortunately I can’t provide a date when surgeries will resume. We will constantly monitor the situation, however, and re-start as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Dr Richmond, concludes: “I would add that all the preventative measures individuals can take will help the hospital and entire health system cope and save lives. We can slow down the spread by washing hands; not touching our faces; coughing and sneezing into tissues; wearing masks if we are sick; and avoiding groups, meetings, shaking hands and hugs. This will give us the opportunity to manage the demand on healthcare more effectively. If we do not act as individuals and a community, we may experience a sudden peak and the healthcare system could struggle.”
Introduction of Visitor Restrictions
BHB said, “Bermuda Hospitals Board today announces the introduction of visitor restrictions to all BHB facilities, KEMH, MWI and group homes, in an effort to safeguard patients against potential covid-19 infections in the community, and preserve personal protective equipment [PPE] such as masks, gloves and gowns for frontline staff at a time of global shortage.
Judy Richardson, Chief of Nursing, comments: “We do not take this step lightly, as we recognize the power of family in visiting people when they are unwell, or vulnerable. But we also have to acknowledge that a COVID-19 infection can be much more serious and deadly for seniors and people with existing medical conditions – and these are the people we care for.”
“The restrictions across all facilities are effective immediately and are as follows:
- “For general acute care patients, long term care and residential units, only immediate family/carers will be allowed to visit
- “For patients on isolation [wherever they are], only one visitor will be allowed, once per day.
BHB offers free wi-fi for patients and visitors, so strongly recommends that anyone in hospital brings or is given a smart phone or mobile device by their loved ones with video messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Skype, etc.
Dr Michael Richmond, Chief of Staff explains: “We apologise to people who want to visit their loved ones, but hope they understand we must put our patients and staff first. Many people do not get seriously ill from COVID-19 or have no symptoms at all, so we anticipate someone could inadvertently visit their loved one and infect them.
“Additionally, we need to preserve personal protective equipment in the face of global shortages. We are preparing in case COVID-19 is an issue for many months, or longer. Our expectation is that we may have to close visiting at some point if COVID-19 spreads locally, but this balance gives patients and residents some access to the love and support of their families, while reducing the risks of exposure and preserving personal protective equipment.”
“People are reminded not to visit their loved ones if they feel unwell with fever, dry cough, trouble breathing or any other symptoms. They should also not visit if they have returned from overseas, or been in contact with someone with the above symptoms, in the last 14 days.”