Public health team works to contain COVID-19 spread at Bellevue Hospital

It’s an anxious time. In addition to the increase in cases of COVID-19 in western Jamaica (where I heard on the television news this evening that the four public hospital serving the region are now 80 to 90 percent full to capacity), clusters seem to be appearing: Following the cluster at the Police Academy, reported a few days ago, there is now one at the Bellevue Hospital, Jamaica’s primary mental health institution in Kingston.

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Tuesday, December 15, 2020. The Ministry of Health & Wellness and the South East Regional Health Authority are working to contain the spread of COVID-19 at the Bellevue Hospital, following the recent discovery of a cluster of cases at the institution.

Up to the weekend, 21 of 29 patients tested and two of 23 staff members tested had returned positive results for COVID-19.

The public health team has since gone into the institution where a range of infection prevention and control measures are now in place. They include:

  • the separation of patients who have tested positive from those who have tested negative;
  • testing on wards that share a common area with the ward on which the cluster of cases was detected;
  • symptomatic surveillance of all other wards, with the testing of all symptomatic persons; and
  • the restriction of interaction among staff and patients from different wards.

Staff are also being trained in infection prevention and control, including cleaning and sanitisation, while doctors are to be trained to swab persons to support the testing efforts. The wearing of masks is mandatory while the ward to which the cases are now confined will accept no new admissions.

“As we near the holidays, we are, as forecast, seeing an increase in our COVID-19 numbers. I cannot over-emphasise the need for members of the public, in and outside our various institutions, to be vigilant in the practice of infection prevention and control measures,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.

“COVID-19 is a threat to all of us, but there is much that we can do to protect ourselves. We can all wear our masks, keep our physical distance from others, frequently wash our hands, and clean and sanitise our common areas. Those measures will help to keep us safe,” the CMO added.

Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Dr. Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie and Mr. David Wan, Chairman of Bellevue Hospital, just before the launch of the Mental Health Campaign in October, 2019. (My photo)

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