Health Minister optimistic COVID19 hospital can be readied this week

Earlier today the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony toured the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, located at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara. The tour was led by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation’s (GPHC’s) Director of Medical and Professional Services, Dr. Fawcett Jeffrey.

“We are preparing the place and I am very optimistic that by tomorrow, we can now have the first set of patients utilising this facility. Different teams working very diligently to ensure we are properly equipped to accommodate patients,” Dr. Anthony stated.

The facility has an isolation section, as well as a separate section to accommodate persons who are awaiting their COVID-19 test results.

During his inspection, Dr. Anthony disclosed that while the facility currently holds 197 beds, Phase One will allow for 50 percent usage of the institution. This will remove the burden from the GPHC, allowing them to cater to more severe cases (patients who are on a ventilating system).

“From a medical perspective, we have beds, bedside cupboards, and every other necessary equipment, as well as medical staff to be deployed from GPHC to monitor the patients,” Dr. Anthony explained.

The Health Minister relayed that the biggest challenge has been ensuring stable electricity throughout the building. He disclosed that the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) is currently on-site to manage the situation.

“I am very pleased that as of this morning, GPL has started working and its team has assured us that the building will be equipped with electricity,” Dr. Anthony expressed.

Some sections within the building have already been powered up.

Dr. Anthony further conveyed that another challenge – availability of water, is also being addressed.

“To connect to the public water system, there are a few technical challenges we have to overcome, but the Guyana Water Inc. has agreed in the interim, once we have patients at this facility, every day, water will be provided to the facility to ensure there is an adequate water supply,” the Health Minister explained.

Speaking on the facility’s third challenge – the sewage system, Dr. Anthony explained that the existing system has been condemned. While there is a temporary system in place, Dr. Anthony disclosed that a long-term solution is in the process.

The Health Minister expressed his sincere gratitude for all the teams that have recognised the gravity of COVID-19 and are working to ensure the facility is suitably furnished to house patients.

Dr. Fawcett Jeffrey relayed that GPHC is currently compressed to accommodate COVID-19 patients, as well as continuing its normal work to tend to non-COVID-19 patients.

He underscored that once the facility is ready for use, patients can be transferred to Liliendaal, and thus allowing GPHC to cater to more severe cases.

“In relation to Phase One, the facility has 55 beds upstairs and 42 downstairs. We realised that with the number of positive cases at the GPHC, we can transfer between 30-40 patients in the downstairs area,” Dr. Jeffrey explained.

He stated that the Health Ministry has recently assisted GPHC with 17 doctors to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. He also noted that the Cuban Medical Brigade assisted through loaning GPHC three nurses and five doctors. 

The Ministry of Health is working with GPHC to provide more health workers from various hospitals around the nation, to assist in the fight against the virus. Seventeen nurses from Diamond Hospital are currently being transferred.

“We will be really happy for the extra hands because it will help us to care for the patients even better.” Dr Jeffery noted.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Hon. Deodat Indar, was also onsite at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and provided an update on the electricity issue.

“Even on this rainy day, we can see the determination of getting the facility open. Two transformers carrying 225 kVA each, have been able to power up the main grid feeding this facility,” Minister Indar explained.

Remaining works will continue on the facility to ensure patients are comfortably housed, and the medical staff will not be in direct contact with the patients.

NOTE: Kilo-volt-amperes (kVA) is a unit of apparent power, which is an electrical power unit.