Amidst heated protest by West End (Home of Hospitality) residents last week regarding reports that the Ministry of Health is considering utilizing the recently renovated West End Community Clinic to house any Grand Bahamian resident that may test positive for the COVID-19 virus, Grand Bahama Health Services (GBHS) Administrator, Sharon Williams, said that the clinic is not the only option.
In an interview with this daily on Friday (March 20), Williams insisted that while the West End Community Clinic is being considered as an option to house those who are infected should the need arise, it is not the only facility within the GBHS being considered.
With the Rand Memorial Hospital (RMH), presently, not in a position to house anyone who may test positive for the disease, due to the damages sustained as a result of Hurricane Dorian, Williams was asked what is the position of the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) in that regard.
“PHA has always had in place, if there was a mass epidemic disease that hits our island, as much as possible, we will not inundate our primary health care facility; because that facility, as much as possible, has to remain sanitized to take care of the other clients that have various illnesses, whether they are severe illnesses or whoever needs to be hospitalized.
“We have always had areas that we have identified as centres to be able to activate, in case we need to isolate persons. West End is just one of them. We would have been mobilizing West End; we are mobilizing our other centres around Freeport. West End (Clinic) was just one of them; that is not the only centre. We recognize the concerns of the public, the citizens of West End and we will take those into consideration, but we must be guided by our government in these instances.
“Again, we recognize the concerns of the citizens of West End, but that is not the only centre that we have been preparing for activation should we have the need,” Williams said.
As it relates to other COVID-19 concerns residents may have, Williams urged persons to utilize the local COVID-19 Hotline numbers.
“We have asked the public, if they have any respiratory concerns, not leave your home and present yourself to any public venue or public health care centre. Call the Hotlines or call your private physician and go through the proper telephone screenings, so that they can give you guidance on what to do and how to act. There are a number of times, based on the response we get, that we want you to self-isolate and our clinicians will tell you what that self-isolation means.”
In terms of persons that may be spreading fake and malicious rumors with respect to alleged possible cases of COVID-19 in Grand Bahama, Williams had this to say, “We are asking the public to be very careful about the rumors they are spreading; to refrain from spreading false rumors.
“We have an obligation to report to the ministry (Ministry of Health) and the public, any concerns and we will not shirk on that that obligation because we are responsible for the health of the public. Should we identify a case, then we will certainly let the ministry and the Minister of Health (Dr. Duane Sands) know as quickly as possible so that that information can be shared to the public.
“Following that, we will put whatever protective measure in place, to make sure our public, our staff, our facilities, our patients are as safe as possible, given the circumstances.”
The GBHS Hotline COVID-19 Numbers are as follows:
815-1667 or 727-0140 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
806-3550 or 727-0401 between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
In conclusion she shared the process by which a person will be handled should, upon following guidelines by clinicians on the hotlines numbers be asked to present themselves to one of the GBHS facilities for further testing. “What we are required to do here is to collect the samples (from patient) and get those samples to Nassau. The testing lab, our National Testing Lab in Nassau is responsible for testing and getting the results back to us as quickly as possible. The sample is a swab from the prescribed areas.”
“To the public, continue to be careful. The laws of The Bahamas are in place to protect us; the various things that the Government is asking in terms of the curfews, not gathering is mass crowds; we need to adhere to. We need to adhere to the health advise that includes all the hygiene’s for coughing and sneezing, hand washing, cleaning their workplaces as much as possible is a must. When we, the public are going out, we need to ensure that we have out hand sanitizers and wipes with us, to make sure that we continue our hand hygiene.”