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Dr Faith B Yisrael

Tobago-born Dr Faith B Yisrael, who has a doctorate in Public Health in behavioural and Public Health Sciences from the University of Pittsburg, is questioning the suitability of using facilities at Tobago’s new and old hospitals, to treat COVID-19 patients.

Yisrael, who is also the Progressive Democratic Patriotic’s representative and a THA assemblyman, has called for a parallel healthcare system in Tobago with “separate physical structures” similar to Caura and Couva in Trinidad.

She recommends the Moriah Health Center, which is under construction and is reportedly almost complete.

Just over one week ago, the Tobago Regional Health Authority’s (TRHA) Medical Chief of Staff Dr Victor Wheeler told reporters there are four beds in the Intensive Care Unit, additional beds on the male medical ward–newer Scarborough hospital, and 10 beds at the older hospital at Fort King George, Scarborough, to treat coronavirus patients.

He noted too that patients will be transported to Trinidad for treatment. In making her point about the unsuitability of the Scarborough hospital, Dr Yisrael referenced statements by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Roshan Parasram.

At the press conference on April 7 Dr Parasram said: “…Basically, we are not treating COVID positive patients at any of our main institutions where we have seen happening in other parts of the world…There have been rampant nosocomial spread facilities to healthcare workers and other patients.”

Dr Yisrael also pointed to Italy’s Vice Premier Carlo Borghetti’s statement that the country’s healthcare system crashed because parallel health care systems were not developed.

She stressed this is why the Moriah Health Centre is suitable.

She told Guardian Media: “The retrofitting doesn’t have to be permanent…We have to stop thinking about using hard, concrete permanent options…We need immediate, flexible options.”

She said if it’s a question of not having money to retrofit the centre, the 2020 Tobago Jazz Experience funds can be used.

Meanwhile, in addition to the treatment facilities, the TRHA is using hotels, across Tobago, to quarantine persons.

On April 9, the THRA indicated that all 65 persons, who were quarantined at the state’s expense, were allowed to leave the facility as they had no flu-like symptoms.

It noted too that no COVID-19 positive patients were at the Tobago facilities.

Of the five cases recorded on the island, one patient died and the rest are in treatment in Trinidad.