Jamaica’s public hospitals only accepting emergency cases

Jamaica has reached its most difficult and stressful point as we do our best to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hospitals are now over capacity – there are no more COVID-19 beds. Concerns about oxygen have now come to the fore. The Ministry of Health and Wellness issued this press release earlier today. It is frightening to read that around 1,000 patients in hospital now are either COVID-positive or suspected to be positive. It has all happened so quickly.

Jamaica’s health system is stretched to the limit.

Meanwhile, over 500,000 vaccine doses have been administered as of Thursday afternoon (August 26). Of that number, 359,675 were first doses and 139,242 were second jabs. The remainder were one-shot Johnson & Johnson doses. This is encouraging, but we still have a ways to go. We received a donation of 200,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the Canadian Government this week. We also have the Pfizer vaccine, so cannot complain now of a shortage (and our teens are getting this one). We just need to get those doses “in arms” as quickly as possible.

On the subject of vaccines, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) had something to say. Here’s a bulletin from Caribbean Vulnerable Communities, which is of great interest:

And, as we prepare for another three days of “no movement,” the push is on to get as many vaccinated as possible (people going for their vax will be allowed to move). As I noted in a post on Global Voices, there was a huge rush to get “jabs” a few days ago, and vaccinations have been ongoing this week. The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica is pushing ahead with getting employees mobilized, and the major insurance company Sagicor Jamaica had a big session today with the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Over 700 people registered at the Sagicor Jamaica “Vax Day” today. (Photo: Sagicor)

Public Hospitals only accepting Emergency cases  

  • General service suspended until further notice

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Friday, August 27, 2021:  Effective immediately, public hospitals islandwide will be restricted to conducting emergency care services only. This comes as the public health facilities register continued increases in confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 infections that required hospitalisation. This has caused the facilities to exceed their COVID-19 isolation capacity.  

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, “Most hospitals are over the capacity of beds designated for COVID-19 management. As such, general hospital beds are being used for COVID-19 care. The rising demand for oxygen also threatens to overwhelm the supply.”

At the same time, hospitals will suspend elective surgeries and begin discharging patients who can receive home care. Members of the public are being asked to refrain from visiting emergency departments except in cases warranting serious medical attention. “We encourage persons to be compliant with their medications and to avoid being on the roads to avoid traffic accidents as hospitals will be constrained to deal with these kinds of emergencies,” the CMO added.

Up to Thursday, August 26, a record 739 positive COVID-19 patients were in hospital, of which 189 were moderately ill, 92 severely ill and 61 critically ill. There were another 320 patients suspected to have COVID-19 under hospital care.

Jamaicans are again being encouraged to get vaccinated as the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to reduce the severity of illness, hospitalisation and death. Meanwhile, everyone must continue to be vigilant in their practice of infection prevention and control measures, notably, mask wearing, maintaining physical distancing from others and frequently washing and/or sanitising hands.               

If you think wearing a mask is uncomfortable… A hard-hitting ad from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.


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