The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Association (KHMHA) Workers Union expressed their concerns at how patient 10 was handled both at Health Care Partners Limited and at the KHMH. According to them, as well as the Belize Medical and Dental Association, the KHMHA Administration has compromised the safety of frontline workers. According to them, despite initial reports that indicated that two previous tests were conducted on patient #10 and were inconclusive, however, actual checks performed by the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) revealed that only one result was reported in the Belize Health Information System. When the ICU inquired about the second test, they received no response up to 5pm on April 9. Their concern is that there was no proper handover from the private facility personnel to the KHMHA’s emergency Department and so the KHMHA erred in accepting and transferring the patient to the ICU without following critical care protocols and recently established COVID-19 protocols. Their second concern entails the use of the Personal Protective Equipment. While previous reports from the Ministry and KHMHA stated that PPE’s were used by the staff at the Accident and Emergency and ICU unit, actual checks revealed that the staff who first came into contact with patient #10 had only used surgical face masks and gloves at A&E, while ICU also used a linen gown. Only limited N95 masks and surgical gown were provided to the ICU staff upon the patient’s admission. The areas of the hospital now compromised due to direct exposure are the A&E and the ICU. Possible further compromise of other areas include the Labour and Delivery, Operating Theatre and Radiology since all these operate under a centralized air conditioning system. The KHMHA Workers Union demanded the immediate and complete closure of the ICU unit and that in patients be relocated elsewhere for intensive care management. The release ended by calling for an investigation on the recent decision undertaken by the KHMHA Administration, and that there is a subsequent removal of anyone found in breach of established protocols and guidelines. This morning, Andrew Baird, the Vice President of the KHMHA Workers Union was on Love FM’s Covid-19 Update Show and explained more of the issues the Union is currently facing. He also spoke about a meeting that was held between the Union and The Prime Minister.
Andrew Baird, Vice President, KHMHA Workers Union Administration: “One, the union demand to have representation on the COVID-19 planning committee and all other committees within KHMH that has to deal with terms and conditions and the well being of the staff on the way forward. On that he said he has to make some separation because presently we are dealing with the COVID-19 and he wanted to ensure that the issue of COVID-19 are separate from the issue of other day to day issue that we encounter with management outside of COVID-19 so he asked us to deal directly with the COVID-19 first. Like I said earlier he consider us to be part of the COVID-19 committee to be reasonable and believe that we ought to have been there at the table from the get go of which never did happen and up to yesterday at the Prime Minister’s Office we were never part of any such committee that dealt with the plan. Number two, we asked that adequate and proper PPEs must be readily available for all staff dealing with suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 and his response to that was that if we achieve the goal of number one to be on the committee then we would have that voice to speak on and about PPEs that are not readily available so we find that response to be reasonable and fair. Number three, we request a full investigation into the breach of protocol in regard to the admission of patient ten to the KHMH and thereafter into the ICU risking the health of other patients and front line workers. Yesterday when he called us he also confirmed that he had brought it to the attention of the chair of the board and the CEO that investigation should be done so we expect an investigation into that admission of patient ten to be started within the KHMH shortly.”
The KHMHA Administration responded that release with one of their own on Sunday. According to them, at the time of transfer, the patient arrived with a negative COVID-19 result and was not classified as a Person Under Investigation (PUI). As a result, the A&E staff adhered to the relevant referral protocols based on the information provided. They noted that the Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) is based on the patient’s diagnosis and the procedure being performed. Their release ended by stating quote, “It is regrettable that after measures were taken to engage and fully involve the KHMHA Workers Union, the Press Release of April 11, 2020 may have created distrust and panic among KHMHA staff and the general public.” End quote.