RESPONSE TO THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS TRADE UNION CONGRESS (CBTUC) BAHAMAS UNION ON THE CRISIS IN THE WORKPLACE FOR MEDICAL WORKERS – Update #39

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COVID19 quarantine cases climb by 219 overnight… Have all these persons been tested and how are they being monitored?

PMH

Nassau| The Ministry of Health is proud of the health care professionals on the frontline to decrease the spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. We commend you for your invaluable service, and we salute you and your families for the sacrifices made to ensure that we have the best possible care for all Bahamians in the face of this global pandemic.

It is with deep regret that we have lost a health care worker and seven other citizens in the fight to eliminate COVID-19 from our shores. The Ministry of Health expresses its sincere condolences to the families that have suffered this great loss.

The Princess Margaret Hospital and Doctors Hospital have already formed an alliance with agreed protocols to accept COVID-19 patients for treatment. To prevent these facilities from being inundated with cases, the Ministry of Health has dedicated the South Beach Health Clinic to accept mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 patients. This will ease the pressure on our public and private hospital systems.

Moreover, to ensure that there are sufficient doctors manning the newly retrofitted South Beach Health Clinic, there is a clear need for more health care workers on the frontline.

Therefore, in conjunction with the Prime Minister and Government of The Bahamas, the Ministry of Health wishes to join the clarion call and national appeal to all available healthcare personnel to assist to lighten the load of those already positioned on the frontline in this fight. All physicians are encouraged to advise when they will make their services available to support the country’s fight against COVID-19.

To facilitate this request, the general public is to be assured that all health care workers will be provided with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to handle patients who are confirmed or suspected to be infected by COVID-19. To ensure that adequate numbers of PPEs are maintained, the Government has already ordered additional supplies. Further, supply levels are constantly being maintained and rates of usage of PPEs are being carefully monitored.

All national COVID-19 concerns are addressed by the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on COVID-19. This Committee is composed of governmental and non-governmental agencies and civil society. The NCC engages the High Level Multi-sectoral COVID-19 Task Force which is mandated to –

 implement the decisions of The Bahamas Government;

 recommend policies to Cabinet; and

 provide sector and society feedback to the Cabinet of The Bahamas.

It is important to note that the National Congress of Trade Unions sits on this committee. It is the intention of the Ministry of Health to consistently include the unions in the decision making process, and to share the current and proposed protocols as they are submitted.

Furthermore, inclusion of some healthcare union members occurs when the Emergency Operations Centre of the Ministry of Health meets. Here, many of the technical deliberations and decisions regarding the COVID-19 response are concretized.

To ensure that the Government’s approach to the COVID-19 response is nonpartisan, several meetings have also been held with Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to discuss the COVID-19 response for The Bahamas.

Despite expected economic fall-out of the mandatory lockdowns, the Government has already committed to providing physicians with a $5,000.00 honourarium for those who work on the frontline of the health sector’s response. The Government has also offered the provision of a life insurance benefit of $100,000 should a health care worker contract the COVID-19 virus and experience an untimely death.

The COVID-19 response needs the cooperation of all governmental, non-governmental and private sector agencies and civil society. Therefore, the general public is assured that the Minister of Health stands ready to meet and dialogue with any civic group, union or interested parties that wishes to pose recommendations to collaboratively fight and eliminate COVID-19 from The Bahamas.