Injection of $16.9 million boosts resilience of St. Kitts-Nevis health system to fight COVID-19

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 11, 2020 (SKNIS): The injection of an added $16.9 million into the health sector of St. Kitts and Nevis on March 23, 2020, has significantly increased the resilience of the country to tackle cases of COVID-19.

The extra allocation, along with the $62 million budget to fund operations of the Ministry of Health in 2020, has ensured that St. Kitts and Nevis is better positioned to flatten the curve.

Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, Medical Chief of Staff of the Joseph N. France General Hospital, said that a broad-based plan was implemented to mitigate against the global pandemic. It included establishing a structure for planning and decision making led by the Chief Medical Officer, developing a written COVID-19 plan, reviewing consumable and durable medical equipment and supplies, as well as identifying strategies to manage patients, visitor access and other types of movement at medical facilities, and enhancing education and training sessions.

“We have augmented the physician staff at the emergency room by adding seven extra doctors to the usual team of nine so in total there are 16 doctors now working in the emergency room,” Dr. Wilkinson stated on Saturday’s (April 11, 2020) edition of the radio programme Inside the News on WINN FM.

Additionally, Dr. Wilkinson added that the private ward at the Joseph N. France General Hospital had been transformed to accommodate any COVID-19 patients who fall seriously ill and have to be hospitalized. The Mary Charles Hospital and Pogson Medical Centre are also in a state of readiness as are the various health centres around the island.

The medical staff on the frontlines in St. Kitts and Nevis will be reinforced by 34 specialist health professionals from Cuba who will report to work on Monday, having been released from 14-day quarantine this weekend. Also, private doctors and several retired nurses have signalled their availability to support the health system in the event of a crisis.

“We now have a total of 15 ventilators at the Joseph N. France General Hospital—one in the emergency room, four in the regular intensive care unit and 10 on the private ward where we will be hosting any persons with the COVID disease,” the medical chief of staff added, noting that several more are on order.

Supplies of infrared thermometers, personal protective equipment (PPE), and nebulizers, were increased. At the same time, two portable x-ray machines are on order that will bring the number to three. The ambulance fleet will also be enhanced with the arrival of two new ambulances slated for April 22, 2020. There are currently six ambulances. However, the new ambulances were explicitly earmarked to transport persons with suspected cases of the coronavirus.

Dr. Wilkinson encouraged persons to support emergency personal at this time and urged every resident and national to band together in this war against the coronavirus.

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