As the nation continues to battle with the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases, several operating procedures have been instituted and strengthened at the Dominica China Friendship Hospital (DCFH) to help to ensure patient and staff safety.
As reported by the Hospital Medical Director Dr. Ruby Blanc, the administration of the hospital staff and patient safety have been among the administration’s premier concerns since the start of the pandemic.
Dr. Blanc said that due to the sharp increase in local cases over the past few weeks, a decision was taken to test all inpatients using the COVID antigen test. This exercise was conducted between August 10 to 12 2021.
“We had a total of 142 in patients who were tested, and of this 15 are found to be positive,” she announced at a press conference earlier this week. “Of course, as soon as these positive cases were identified, they were immediately isolated and the necessary contact tracing initiated.”
Antigen tests were also conducted in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department which is the main intake point at the hospital.
“So we started about the 11th of August and between the 11th of August to the 19th, we had 304 patients coming in through the emergency department and those were all tested,” Dr. Blanc said.
Of these 28 patients were found to be positive and were immediately isolated.
As to the protocols which have been established, there will be 100% testing on all patients coming into the hospital for admission or just care at the A&E department.
“All persons entering the compound will be screened at the entrance gate for fever and flu-like symptoms and those seeking care who are found on screening to have either fever or flu-like symptoms, will be seen and managed in a space outside of the emergency department in an area we refer to as a screening container,” the DCFH Medical Director stated. “So, this is in an attempt to continue to keep patients who are potentially positive for COVID separate from patients who are negative.”
The hospital has also requested from primary health care that patients who are referred from the District Health Centers are antigen tested at the health centres before being sent to the hospital.
If, for whatever reason this is not done, then the test will be administered to the patients on arrival at the country’s main health care facility.
All inpatients will again be tested on day five of their admission so that in the event the patients were in the incubations period at the time of testing, the health care workers will be able to identify these individuals.
Additionally, for all patients who develop suspicious symptoms while on the ward, regardless of their admission, or day five test, we’ll be retested immediately. Once patients are found to be positive, they are isolated, and contact tracing is initiated internally as well as outside of the hospital.
According to Dr. Blanc, “On the wards, we continue to aggressively promote and practice mask-wearing, physical distancing and aggressive hand hygiene among staff and the patients. Staff have been trained in the use of PPEs and this training is ongoing even as we speak, and they are expected to utilize them as they carry out their duties. You will all know that there has been the institution of a no visitation policy. And that continues to be enforced.”
All staff have been advised that if they develop any symptoms of concern, then they are not to report to work while sick, but rather, they should urgently get tested so that their COVID-19 status can be determined and appropriate care initiated.
She went on to know that the staff vaccination drive which was launched to increase the number of staffers vaccinated will also directly contribute to the overall safety and protection of our patients.
“We also are going to institute a testing schedule of every two weeks for all staff members so we can pretty much keep our fingers on the pulse. Keep up to date and continue with the Know your status initiative among staff,” the hospital medical director informed.”This is in a bid to protect all of us, to protect staff f as well as other patients.”
In closing, she placed on record her gratitude to all the front line workers, health care workers and support staff for their role played during this pandemic.
“Hats off to everyone employed at the hospital. You continue to work under difficult and trying circumstances, Yet the majority of people turn up every day for work and give the best of themselves. And for this, this stuff must be recognized and commended,” Dr Blanc said.