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BHB could be swamped if virus rules ignored

The health system could be “overwhelmed” if the public fails to follow quarantine and isolation rules, the Bermuda Hospitals Board's chief of staff warned today.

Michael Richmond said that the BHB backed “decisive action” by the Government to limit the spread of Covid-19.

However, he added: “The community must adhere to these restrictions, abide by quarantine and isolation rules, or else the healthcare system could be overwhelmed as has happened in countries such as Italy.”

Dr Richmond said that BHB was doing “everything in its power to prepare for increased demand”.

But he added: “We have limits.”

Dr Richmond explained: “If we as a community do not control the spread of Covid-19, the numbers of critically ill patients could rise precipitously and the ability for the healthcare system to support those who are most critically ill will be put at risk.”

The warning came as the BHB announced further restrictions at its hospitals and departments.

A spokeswoman for the BHB said that people who had to visit the Emergency Department should come by themselves, if possible, and should bring only a single companion “if essential”.

She added: “This is to reduce the number of people in the waiting room, and help emergency patients, who are more likely to be in an at-risk group, to maintain a physical distance from each other while they wait.

“Parents who are seeking treatment for themselves are advised not to bring their children with them.”

The spokeswoman said that people should not visit patients other that in “exceptional circumstances, such as newborns — the mother's partner or one close relative or friend if there is no partner — unwell children — parents only, or people near the end of life”.

She added that other outpatient services were being “critically reviewed with the aim of only seeing people in person by exception”.

The spokeswoman said: “All other patients will either have appointments postponed if they are stable, or offered a remote consultation, for example, by phone.

“People with outpatient appointments will be contacted directly about what will happen.”

She added that elective hyperbaric treatments, used for divers with the bends and sometimes for wound care, had been suspended and that BHB was looking at closing down the service “even to emergency treatments”.

The spokeswoman said: “These are mostly diving accidents, but the oxygen from the hyperbaric chamber will be needed if multiple people with Covid-19 need ventilator and/or oxygen support in the hospital.”

Diagnostic and lab tests are by appointment only and urgent tests had been prioritised over routine ones.

Dr Richmond said that the measures were designed to limit opportunities for Covid-19 to spread by a reduction in foot traffic and a cut in the number of people in waiting rooms.

He added: “This supports physical distancing that, along with hand washing and not touching your eyes, nose or mouth, are key ways people can protect themselves and their families.”

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (File photograph)

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Published March 21, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 21, 2020 at 9:01 am)

BHB could be swamped if virus rules ignored

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