#TurksandCaicos, March 8, 2021 – InterHealth Canada-Turks and Caicos Islands Hospital in partnership with the Turks and Caicos Islands Government, continues to monitor and manage various critical resources that can affect the hospital’s capacity during the COVID-19 national response. These include the availability of hospital beds, personal protective equipment (PPE), human resources, and oxygen.
The installation of an oxygen generator system at the Turks and Caicos Islands Hospital is scheduled to commence this week. The project seeks to provide the hospital with the equipment to independently produce medical-grade oxygen and reduce the reliance on overseas suppliers.
The system design and layout process are underway, and the overall project is expected to span 10 to 12 weeks.
A duplex MDOCS 200 VSA oxygen generation system will be installed at both the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on Providenciales and Cockburn Town Medical Centre on Grand Turk. During the installation process, the hospital can utilize an emergency provision to rapidly install an oxygen generator module if there are supply-chain difficulties encountered with the shipment of oxygen cylinders.
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, and due to the nature of the disease, the virus can affect the lungs and impair a patient’s ability to intake sufficient oxygen. Therefore, oxygen is the mainstay of clinical therapy for patients admitted with severe COVID-19 disease, and for these reasons, piped oxygen demands are naturally higher during the pandemic.
The supply and consumption rate of oxygen is actively monitored in conjunction with the patient admission and discharge trends. Oxygen supply levels can fluctuate daily based on patient care needs and the length of inpatient stay for COVID-19 patients. Oxygen cylinders are ordered on a rotation cycle, and approximately 100 or more cylinders arrive from overseas every week to bolster supply levels. Liquid oxygen cylinders are also used, which provides the health care facility with an even higher storage capacity.
The project is government-funded, and InterHealth Canada, the hospital’s private health care management company, is specifically responsible for the coordination and logistics onsite. A robust phase of quality assurance checks was completed to ensure the requisite standards and technical specifications were met before the installation contract.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Agriculture and Human Services, Honorable Erwin Jay Saunders, stated: “The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been working closely with TCI Hospital since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that capacity was built at the hospitals to respond to this public health emergency, being the only secondary care facilities in the TCI. A joint plan of work was undertaken and funded by the TCIG and included the uplift of additional beds at both sites, including furniture, procurement of biomedical equipment and consumables for these beds, procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), facilitating additional clinical staffing from Cuba as well as the development of a capacity to generate oxygen within the TCI for the first time.
Previously, the TCI has relied on the importation of medical-grade oxygen for use in the hospital and clinics. The oxygen generators were purchased and are in-country, and works are underway to install and commission these generators.
This initiative will be sustainable in allowing the hospitals to generate oxygen in the country during the pandemic and beyond and no longer rely on external sources. We are excited about this development and the partnership which has led to this point and look forward to the implementation of these devices as a part of the ongoing COVID-19 response.”
Chief Executive Officer at TCI Hospital, Dr. Denise Braithwaite-Tennant, stated: “This represents a tremendous achievement in our pandemic and disaster resiliency. The genesis of this project came about as a result of a task force commissioned in the early months of the pandemic.
The task force was led by PS Desiree Lewis, supported by specialist advisors from the UK and members of the hospital and team health. During the ensuing months, we conducted robust data analysis and scenario planning, and the outcomes are the hospital and system developments that are progressively being implemented by various project leads. It was also important that the oxygen generating capacity be present at both the Providenciales and Grand Turk facilities, which seek to build redundancy and resiliency. This is especially important when one considers that each facility for periods has to operate without the support of its sister facility during a disaster.
The project leads for the oxygen generator implementation are Ms. Florinda Talbot, MOH Contract Manager, and Martín Dawtry, our facilities General Manager and strongly supported by the AG Chambers. The project leads have all worked passionately with both the hospital and MOH teams to bring this new and potentially life-saving technology to the Islands and continue to do so as the contractor progresses the installation. It is through a collaborative and visionary relationship with the Turks and Caicos Islands Government that great successes are achieved for the community.”
Chief of Medical Services at TCI Hospital, Dr. Dawn Perry-Ewing, stated: “The upscaling of TCI Hospital’s capacity to deliver care to patients during this pandemic makes the nation’s healthcare system even more resilient. This project is the result of a collaboration between the TCI Government and TCI Hospital. The welcomed arrival of the generators gives our operating team a wider margin of comfort as we can consistently provide a higher standard of care to our patients.”
Contract Manager at the TCI Government Contract Management Unit, Florinda Talbot, stated: “Hospitals all over the world realize that onsite oxygen generation provides a highly reliable and economical solution for their oxygen requirement. This includes directly supplying oxygen to the hospital’s in-house supply lines, filling cylinders to provide backup or supply for over-peak demands. I am elated to see that the TCI Hospital has arrived at this stage.”
General Manager of Facilities at TCI Hospital, Martin Dawtry, stated: “This is a great partnership initiative, which allows the health care facility to generate its medical grade oxygen, not only for this current pandemic but for future resilience. We will also have the ability to produce medical-grade oxygen to fill our cylinders to support oxygen needs for community clinics across the islands. The installation works will add to our existing long list of resources implemented at TCI hospital to improve patient care during this pandemic and support additional capacity.”
Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.
The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.
The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year. In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.
In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.
Cruising should slow down says PAHO
By Dana Malcolm
‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.
“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”
Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.
Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.
A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.
New Healthy Sail rules to ensure transparency and safety kick in, but not all Cruise Lines are on board
By Dana Malcolm
January 20, 2022 – The US Centers for Disease Control Cruise Sailing Order expired on Saturday January 15th and it means cruise lines will now be able to choose whether or not they want to participate. This “Healthy Sail” program is a set of guidelines for cruising which the CDC says will provide transparency about COVID management on ships.
Cruise lines which chose to participate in the “healthy sail” voluntary program will be subject to CDC guidelines. Cruise lines which opt out of the program will still have to adhere to masking mandates and report all COVID cases.
However, the ships opting out of the CDC Healthy Sail program, will not be required to make public their testing regimes for crew and passengers.
“There will be a lot of unknowns about what risk mitigation measures are being used on board because they will really be able to set their own protocols for testing of passengers and crew,” said Aimee Treffiletti, CDC representative to USA Today.
Naturally, this raises several questions about whether these ships will be required to make onboard protocols and findings public to ports of call.
Up to Monday, Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines had opted into the program. Noticeably absent from the roll call: Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.
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