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Not all patients tested at hospital emergency

People who attend the hospital's emergency department are not tested for the coronavirus, the Chief of Emergency has said.

Chikezie Dean Okereke outlined Bermuda Hospitals Board procedures after a family questioned why an elderly relative treated in emergency was not tested.

Dr Okereke said that anyone admitted as an inpatient to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital or the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute were tested “whatever they were admitted for”.

He added: “Our priority is to protect our staff, so it is essential we identify any positive cases, especially those who may be asymptomatic and admitted for non-Covid reasons.”

He was speaking after a woman, who asked not to be named, said she found it “shocking” that her elderly relative, who was taken by ambulance to the hospital on Sunday, did not get an automatic check for the coronavirus.

She added: “It's really problematic to me that it's not being done, for someone who came in and was dealing with staff, equipment and doctors for several hours.

“If someone comes in asymptomatic, they can transmit this virus.”

The woman said it had not been made clear to her if someone taken to the ED was classed as “admitted”.

She added a receptionist told her over the phone later that testing was not “automatic”.

The receptionist said that “if you're deemed to have symptoms when you check in, then you're tested”.

The woman was also told: “You can't test everyone”.

She said: “I don't understand why, in the midst of this pandemic, that they're not testing people who have access to the Emergency Department.”

The woman added: “Hopefully with more testing, they would be able to test everybody.”

Her woman relative, who had been isolated at home as someone considered vulnerable to Covid-19, was taken to hospital with symptoms that did not match any of the indicators for Covid-19, such as a dry cough or fever.

The island's testing capability increased this week, with 949 tests carried out by Wednesday.

Dr Okereke said ED precautions included the use of masks for staff and patients.

He added: “The test results take a day or two, so they do not impact emergency treatment and personal protective precautions are already in place and are appropriate for asymptomatic patients.”

He said “heightened precautions” were followed for procedures that could increase the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Dr Okereke said that patients who were not sick enough to need inpatient hospital care, but who showed Covid-19 symptoms or had a medical history that made them as a potential risk, would get their initial treatment and advice in the ED.

He added these patients would be referred to their GP, or to the Department of Health if they did not have a doctor, for follow-up and testing.

Dr Okereke said: “This is because their continued care and management sits in the community and not at the hospital or in ED.

“A report is made to the Department of Health, as is required about the visit, but all other care, testing and management takes place in the community.”

No effect on admissions: Chikezie Dean Okereke, the Chief of Emergency and Hypberbaric Services at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (File photograph)

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Published April 25, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 25, 2020 at 1:04 pm)

Not all patients tested at hospital emergency

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