One of the COVID-19 isolation units at the Scarborough General Hospital, Tobago.

Visitation has been suspended at the Scarborough General Hospital. Medical Chief of Staff Dr Victor Wheeler said the measure was implemented to reduce the risk of COVID-19 being spread to patients who are warded receiving treatment.

Speaking at a virtual media conference held on Thursday, Wheeler said, only one parent is allowed with a child on the Paediatric Ward, while only the fathers of newborns will be allowed on the Maternity Ward.

“The reason for this is to reduce the likelihood of persons who may, or may not have a viral illness coming into the hospital compound and exposing patients who are there. Now even if there’s no visiting, you can still have care packages delivered to the ward and they would be taken to your family members” he said.

Wheeler said the Scarborough General Hospital is being upgraded to include showering and changing facilities for medical staff, especially those who work in high-risk areas and those who work closely with COVID positive patients. He said, with the advent of COVID-19 in the country Medical Staff have complained of discrimination when they are seen in public spaces. He said this new facility will bring a level of peace to both medical personnel and the public at large.

“The reason for this is that those members of staff who have worked closely with those COVID positive patients or suspected patients, will be able to have a shower and a change of clothes before they leave the hospital compound and the reason why this is being put in place is for the safety of members of staff themselves and also the public. The public should be reassured that if you see a healthcare worker in public, that person does not have on clothes that they would have been using to treat any positive COVID patients” he said.

He reminded that there is also a facility located at Signal Hill, where healthcare workers who are unable to stay at home during the COVID-19 crisis are being housed. A total of 14 medical staff, which includes doctors and nurses are currently being facilitated.

Questioned on the arrangements for pregnant women who test positive for COVID-19, he said, patients would be isolated on the Maternity Ward, before being transferred to Trinidad.

“The Port-of-Spain General Hospital has actually been identified as the Maternity Unit to look after COVID positive pregnant patients, if we do have a pregnant patient that is positive, we do have an isolation room on the ward, where we will house that patient while we make arrangements to transfer that patient to Trinidad.”

Meanwhile, plans are also afoot for testing to be conducted in Tobago. Wheeler said the threshold has been lowered for swabbing and testing at the Scarborough General Hospital.

“In anticipation of this, discussions are ongoing with the CARPHA and the Ministry of Health regarding us in Tobago getting a machine. There’s training planned next week for some laboratory staff, we intend to hire separate staff for this testing that we will eventually be doing in Tobago” he said.