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Get vaccinated to ease pressure on health staff, urges doctor

Warning: Dr Wesley Miller, the BHB’s Chief of Staff (Photograph supplied)

Hospital services could be “tested” if the island was hit by another surge in Covid-19 cases, according to a senior doctor.

Wesley Miller, the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s Chief of Staff, called for everyone to get vaccinated in order to take pressure off health services.

Dr Miller said that King Edward VII Memorial Hospital was coping with the current influx of patients, but that already overworked health staff could struggle if their workloads increased.

There are currently 39 Covid-19 patients in the hospital, five of whom are in intensive care, according to figures released on Wednesday.

Dr Miller said that the BHB prepared for high patient numbers at the start of the pandemic last year after witnessing other jurisdictions “struggle with huge surges”.

“These preparations meant we have had a very effective response this year and managed with the sudden surge of patients. Our staff have been amazing.”

KEMH has opened an overflow Intensive Care Unit and now had the capacity to treat 30 patients. The hospital also has 30 ventilators, and the number of acute care beds has increased from 130 to nearly 200.

Dr Miller added: “Even with the surge of inpatients at BHB, we are coping well right now. But should numbers continue to escalate, we would be tested.

“Our maximum capacity is not something that could be sustained for very long as our staff would be stretched.

“This type of burnout has been seen overseas. It is not fair to our staff and their families who would take on this burden.

“And while treatments are now more effective, as we have seen, people can still die or be left with long lasting and disabling symptoms.”

Dr Miller said that ideally, all Covid-19 patients should remain on one ward, but current patient levels meant that was not possible.

He added: “However, all of our acute care wing units and critical care areas can work under negative pressure.

“This stops air flowing out from a room with an infectious patient in it.

“We have a good supply of personal protective equipment for staff and medications for treatment, although as numbers rise PPE and drugs get used much more frequently so we are carefully monitoring our resources.

He said the vaccine offered the best protection against the virus and avoiding a stay in hospital.

“We know that hundreds more people are getting vaccinated every day in Bermuda,” he said.

“Last year, we didn’t have this amazing opportunity to protect ourselves and our families from severe symptoms. With nearly a third of the population fully vaccinated, there is already a level of protection against severe sickness and hospitalisation.

“The more people vaccinated means fewer very sick people, less pressure on health services and a clearer path back out of the current restrictions. We have not had a patient admitted who was fully vaccinated.

“Vaccination is safe and it works. Hundreds of millions of people around the world have been vaccinated and the countries with good roll-out programmes are turning the tide of the pandemic.

“We hope more people step up in Bermuda for the greater good of us all.”

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Published April 16, 2021 at 8:54 am (Updated April 16, 2021 at 8:54 am)

Get vaccinated to ease pressure on health staff, urges doctor

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