Private medical institution Medical Associates Hospital Limited joined the fight against the Covid-19 virus with the launch of the country’s first private COVID-19 Ward Care designated for COVID-19 positive patients, at its Chaguanas hospital on September 6.
Stating that as a result of the strain the public healthcare system has been faced with since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Medical Associates said the decision was taken as a private health-care institution, to offer services for those seeking medical assistance for COVID-19.
During a press conference at its St Joseph facility on Monday, the institution’s medical director Dr Aroon Naraynsingh said the hospital was redone to facilitate the care of Covid-19 patients in a ‘hot zone’ that is totally isolated from everything else.
“We cater for people who are Covid positive, but there’s a small two-bedded area where we look after patients who might be positive. Then there’s a waiting area for those awaiting their test to show whether they are positive or not, and then we proceed accordingly.
“We are fully equipped with ICU (Intensive Care Unit), ventilators, everything that the patients need plus we have the drugs, the anti-viral drug and the anti-inflammatory drug that really prevents the lungs from crashing.”
He said both drugs are available as there’s a reliable amount in stock, with a system in place for getting more.
“We have a team of staff who are all trained in Covid management. The only place they can get training is in the public system, so they are from the public system, and they have helped us to design the place so that it will suit the safety of the patients and staff.”
He said the Covid care facility can ward between 10 and 12 patients, with an ICU capacity of two, which can be expanded if the need arises.
He noted that while the facility is private, Medical Associates is willing to lend assistance to the Government in whatever capacity it is needed.
“We’re willing to help in whatever way we can help.”
Naraynsingh said since the launch of the facility, it has been doing well.
“It have ups and downs in the amount of patients that are there, but we manage well and the little advantage patients have in this system is that we have limited visitation. In other words, we allow relatives to visit, restricted on the amount of time they can spend and the amount of people that go in to see them. This is not one of the things available in the public system and I could understand that because of the volume, and the expense as well, because each time somebody go in there they have to be properly dressed with the PPE (personal protective equipment).
He said the PPE used by visitors are provided by Medical Associates and as a result, they have to have a large amount in supply.
He also noted that their data on Covid-19 patients are recorded and supplied to the Ministry of Health.
In terms of the cost of treating a Covid patient, Naraynsingh said: “It is a little more expensive than the normal patient because of the amount of PPE you have to use and some of the drugs are really expensive.”
Stating that because of the expense of some of the drugs, there’s a hesitancy to use them in the public healthcare system, Naraynsingh added that the anti-viral drugs, which are expensive, are given to patients if it is necessary for them to have it.
“And the other drug, which is the anti-inflammatory drug, is very, very expensive. So we give that only when necessary but that’s the one that would really prevent you from going into a crash, and prevent you from going to ICU and being ventilated, for once you go there, your prognosis is not very good,” Naraynsingh stated.
He noted that with the use of the anti-inflammatory drug, a patient is less likely to become critically ill or die, leading to a lower mortality rate.
“The other thing is that Covid in general, the vaccination is an important thing. If you get ill, and very ill, you stand a much better chance if you’re vaccinated.
“I think it’s safer for the patients or the public, the people around them, the staff, and the country as a whole. And it will also help the country to develop economically.”
Asked if staff at the Covid-19 Ward Care are required to be vaccinated, Naraynsingh said, “Yes. In this hospital, everybody is vaccinated.
“It’s a big amount of staff I have, it’s over 250 people, all vaccinated. You don’t want the non-vaccinated people to be contaminated with this virus.”
In providing a breakdown of the cost of the drugs used, Naraynsingh said the anti-viral drug is roughly between $1,500 and $1,800 per shot, and a patient would normally require six shots over a five-day period.
He said with regards to the anti-inflammatory drug, its cost is $15,000 per shot but only one shot is required.
He noted that with a state-of-the-art facility, a fully equipped IC Unit, the full range of World Health Organization (WHO) & FDA approved medications for the treatment of COVID19 patients, and their team of expertly trained medical professionals, their Chaguanas COVID-19 Ward Care have successfully treated and discharged all of its patients since its launch.