BHB on ‘Disaster Alert Level 3’; confirms Covid cases among staff
The spike in Covid-19 patients has sparked a move by the Bermuda Hospitals Board to its second-highest alert level, staff were told.
A message sent on behalf of executives on Monday added that services were at risk and would be further under threat if the virus was passed between workers and impacted manpower.
The note, addressed to BHB colleagues, said: “We have decided the sustained rise in hospitalisations warrants a move up to Disaster Alert Level 3, so we can focus all resources on the emerging number of hospitalised patients.
“This alert level indicates that we believe there is an immediate and present risk to BHB services, due to the number of people having to be admitted for Covid-19.”
The message, seen by The Royal Gazette, listed several measures taken by BHB because of the “surge” in cases.
They included a ban on visitors other than in exceptional circumstances such as end of life, and the opening of additional capacity for acute care.
The note added: “The medical tent outside of Emergency is set up to help with patient flow and separate out the Covid-19 suspected and confirmed patients from the other patients.”
Staff were warned to be prepared for Disaster Alert Level 4 – the highest category.
Workers were told that business travel was not allowed and any new vacation requests “must be carefully reviewed and only approved if it does not impact the department’s ability to respond to a rising number of Covid-19 cases”.
Signed “Mike, Scott, Wesley, Judy, Bill and Preston”, the message said: “If there is transmission between staff, the risk is not just to ourselves, but to our families and patients, and to BHB services, if we cannot maintain staffing levels.
“The days and weeks ahead will be challenging and we cannot hide from that, but you are not alone.
“Remember to reach out if you need help, or if the pressures in your team needs attention.
“The ability to respond rests on our collective response, and we will get through this by working together and supporting each other.
“If you have questions, please reach out to your manager, call your Employee Relations Manager or speak to one of us.”
The Bermuda Hospitals Board, which employs about 1,800 people, confirmed yesterday that it has 21 employees with confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 7 people on quarantine as close contacts.
A BHB spokeswoman said: “With so many positive cases in the community it is sadly to be expected that we will experience positive staff cases.
“We currently have 21 employees with confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 7 people on quarantine as close contacts. We do not share staff details or locations, but we do have very strict policies and processes that we follow if a staff member tests positive.
“Our Employee Health Services department works closely with the Infection Prevention and Control Team and Government to manage contact tracing, cleaning, and management of any potential exposure to others.”
The BHB executive team includes Michael Richmond, the chief executive officer, R Scott Pearman, the deputy CEO and Wesley Miller, the chief of staff.
Its other members are Judy Richardson, the chief of nursing, William Shields, the chief financial officer, and Preston Swan, the acting chief operating officer.
A BHB spokeswoman said yesterday: “Disaster alert levels are internal status indicators for BHB staff, which help direct staff work and reflects the high number of admissions to hospital of Covid-19 patients.
“As we reported last week, we are under immense pressure at the moment and opened two overflow ICUs last week.
“The escalation and de-escalation of the disaster alert levels reflect the surges.”
She explained that the hospital operated under alert level three in spring 2020 but managed the last spike – in spring this year – at level two.
The spokeswoman added that over the summer, the alert level stood at one.
She said that more than 90 per cent of BHB doctors and 70 per cent of its registered nurses were vaccinated.
The spokeswoman added: “The vaccination rate for the entire BHB, which includes administrative departments and both King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, is about 57 per cent.”