Several patients who were receiving dialysis treatment at the Belize Healthcare Partners have been infected with Covid-19. The test results came out on Friday which uncovered a cluster of Covid-19 patients including staff members. The dialysis unit has since been closed down. According to the Director of Health Services Dr Marvin Manzanero, the index case is yet to be identified.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “We were aware first of a dialysis patient I would say it’s probably ten -twelve days ago as a first case. We don’t know if Healthcare Partners was finding out some anomaly or something coming up on their end and that would have been an initial flag for them and then we started a second case identified going to the previous weekend and last week well you know Monday was a holiday but then still throughout the week more cases started to be swabbed on that long weekend and cases started to be identified. So towards the end of last week we had three patients who were positive at Karl Heusner’s ICU and one patient had died from that cluster. Of course then you go and do an entire exercise and some of their staff members have now turned out positive and so that’s where we are with that particular cluster but no identification of an index case. We do know of one staff member who works at Karl Heusner and also works at Healthcare Partners who is now positive we feel got exposed at Healthcare Partners at that specific dialysis unit.”
A release from the Belize Healthcare Partners Limited has indicated that its personnel from the dialysis unit have been placed on quarantine but that the treatment for its patients continue. While the BHPL declined to give our newsroom an interview on the cluster within its hospital, Dr Manzanero did explain that the contraction of the virus at the BHPL is neither unique to Covid-19 nor to this specific facility.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “Beyond COVID-19 situations you can have those things happening. That’s why you always talk about infection prevention control measures being adequate but even so we always tell people that being inside a hospital setting is not necessarily the safest place to be and that people should only really go to a hospital even for the hospital visits I know we normally take whole pile of people to go do hospital visits when you have a family member- in some institutions they only allow one family member to come in, children are not routinely allowed in the hospital setting because you can have a bacteria that you routinely would not find anywhere else. So you have a higher risk yes, you have a higher risk and there’s elements called I mean you know you have hospital acquired pneumonia, you have hospital acquired infections that can be more difficult to treat for sure.
Reporter: So in the case of Belize Healthcare Partners what are the current measures ? Has the dialysis unit been sealed off or what are the measures taken there since all of these cases were found out?
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “Well after you start identifying cases you have to go and identify where potential source would have been so the dialysis unit would have been that particular instance for them. They were asked to do the adequate sanitization of the area and it had been closed towards the end of last week. I believe they sent us a preliminary report we have to go back and verify, look through that report and come to an agreement to see whether it satisfied infection prevention control measures and try to ensure that no other patient is exposed. Any chronic condition puts you at a higher risk for death. Kidney failure is a predisposing condition in that you are more likely to die as a result of. The patient that died on the weekend on Saturday was not a dialysis patient, that death had been in a male earlier in the week but I mean you are put at a higher condition that makes it a little more difficult risk. It doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily going to die but you have another predisposing
The Belize Healthcare Partners has been conducting weekly antigen tests on its medical staff and patients. Upon receiving its first set of positive results the Ministry of Health was called in to confirm the results by carrying out PCR tests. Next door to BHPL is the Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Center which was also closed down due to a separate Covid-19 cluster.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “I don’t think there’s a connection it might be a separate cluster. I mean we don’t know. In terms of trying to identify the actual sources within the endoscopy center is a separate matter that is also being reviewed. The endoscopy center yes well we had identified initially one case and then a second case came up because of the potential risk to the staff there then there’s a swabbing done of the full time staff that they have there which I believe is nine or eleven and seven of those total were positive when Saturday’s results came out. They had been advised from Thursday to have had a closure of the facility. We understood that they were closed from Thursday and so when the results came out on Saturday where five more staff members were positive I believe they then di a release to indicate that but we had assumed that they had closed from the actual Thursday.”
A release from the Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Center has announced that they will be closed indefinitely. The release notes that the entire facility will be sanitized in the coming days in accordance with the Ministry of Health standards.