As the number of Covid patients requiring hospital care continues to rise, the allocation of bed spaces has become a challenge for the nation’s health system.
According to Dr Maryam Abdool Richards, Principal Medical Officer-Institutions, hospitals are being filled quickly, resulting from the fact that as persons are discharged persons are being admitted because persons in the Accident and Emergency wards are waiting admission.
She said hospitals have had an increasing number of admission over the last three weeks and the rolling average of cases-number of confirmed cases on a daily basis over the last seven days, which now stands at 414, also continues to increase.
She also noted that the greater the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19, the greater the number of persons who require medical care at a hospital within the parallel healthcare system.
“The number of admissions and discharges continue to increase at a consistent rate over the last three days, and it’s important to note this trend of an increasing rate. We have noted, based on the last week, that the number of confirmed cases that require admission in a hospital is in the vicinity of 18 per 100, while we have a discharge rate of seven per 100. This means that for every 100 cases that’s been confirmed, 11 persons are required to go in the hospital and stay there.”
“We continue to see a gap, that is, admissions continue to exceed the number of discharges and the Ministry of Health has been trying to promote the resilience of the parallel healthcare system by adding beds incrementally and adding more spaces for our ill Covid-19 patients.”
She said over the weekend, the step-down facility at the UTT Valsayn Campus added another 10 bed, increasing its capacity to 50, and another 10 is expected to be added today.
“What I would like to remind the population is that as we continue to add beds, they continue to be filled, so there continues to be a backlog and an excess number of patients that require care. Every one of us and every national deserves a good quality of care, and if we continue at this rate, we are soon going to run out of spaces at the hospital.”
Noting that if the trend continues they will run out of the support system-the nurses, the doctors, the ventilators, the lab services and the ambulance services, which continue to be under strain by the increasing numbers of cases.
“At the ministry we continue to do our part by engaging all possible to increase those spaces for Covid-19 patients, but you need to do your part by adhering to the prevention measures and basically staying inside and preventing mixing unless it is absolutely necessary. So please stay inside, that’s the way you can decrease the demand for beds while we marginally have been increasing supply on our end.
“If we continue at this rate, we will compromise the care of patients in the traditional health system, which means that a pregnant mother may not get a bed, an ill child may not get the ambulance care if they have some medical condition.”
Richards said the overall ward occupancy in Trinidad, currently at 75 per cent, continues to increase, which is a red flag, and the overall Trinidad and Tobago occupancy is at 67 per cent.
“Our HDUs (High Dependency Unit) are at maximum capacity and we continue to try to convert beds, to add nursing staff, but of course, these resources are starting to run out and have begun to run out.
“The ICU (Intensive Care Unit) capacity is at 100 per cent in Trinidad and Tobago and 97 per cent overall.
“Our step-down centres continue to be filled. UTT is currently at 100 per cent, Debe at 74 per cent, Point Fortin at 40 per cent, and expected to increase this afternoon.”
In urging the population to continue to adhere and to comply with the Covid-19 prevention measures, Richards said: “We are indeed a civic-minded and responsible people and we have to do our part in decreasing this trend.”
She said in addition to observing the 3Ws of wearing a mask, washing of hands, and watching one’s distance, persons should engage in proper self-isolation when quarantined as a primary contact or as a Covid-positive at home, and continue to sanitise.
“We are hopeful that if these measures are complied with we will soon be able to flatten this curve and return to some normalcy very much in the near future,” Richards said.