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Port- of- Spain General Hospital

Rishard [email protected]

The number of beds in the old COSTAATT Building, of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, will be reduced to ensure adequate distance between patients to prevent further outbreaks of COVID-19.

This is among several measures to be implemented at the hospital in the wake of the building’s third and most recent outbreak among patients and staff. During a virtual show on its Facebook page yesterday, T&T Registered Nurses’ Association president Idi Stuart said it’s one of the measures that came out of meetings with North West Regional Health Authority and Ministry of Health officials over the past two weeks. “You can’t even take a trolley to take someone off (the ward) so you actually have to move with the entire bed. You can’t bring an ECG (echocardiogram) machine or X-Ray machine to someone bed because there is literally no walking room to get from bed to bed in that COSTAATT building,” Stuart said as he explained how overcrowded it was. He explained that this was due to the repurposing of the building to house patients decanted from the Central Block when it was condemned- a move he empathised with. However, he said the association anticipates the capacity to be reduced by at least 10 per cent. “So we expect that COSTAATT building to reduce by 10 to 15 per cent especially the male ward. And the female ward, the floor just above- we expect it to come down by at least five to 10 per cent,” he said. TTRNA second vice president Latisha Cox indicated the association expected the beds to be removed over the next two weeks. Stuart previously raised concerns over the overcrowded ward and attributed this as a major contributor to the outbreaks. There have been three outbreaks of COVID-19 among staff and even patients on the ward since the pandemic began; the most recent beginning in late December.

Since the recent outbreak, some 25 nurses and other staffers were placed on immediate quarantine leave. At least five nurses and three patients have since tested positive for the virus. On Tuesday, a patient who was warded in the building during the recent outbreak died hours after testing positive for the virus. Following the patient’s death, the opposition called for an investigation into the matter.

However, when asked if one would be conducted, acting North West Regional Health Authority chief executive officer Salisha Baksh told Guardian Media: “We would have already reviewed the incident and implemented additional measures to further strengthen our Infection Prevention and Control Protocols in an effort to reduce the risk and spread of the COVID-19 virus.”She declined to give further details on the protocols at this time.