Well known medical internist, Dr Fernando Cuellar has expressed concerns over Covid-19 bed capacity and availability at both private and public health facilities. He has described the situation as being dire and went as far as to say that patients will soon begin dying in hospital parking lots. In an interview he did yesterday Dr Cuellar says it’s not about instilling fear but rather about sensitizing the public on the seriousness of the situation in Belize.
Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist: “Our healthcare system both public and private has gone beyond its limits. Unfortunately we have deficiencies in all the regional hospitals and the major hospitals and private hospitals when it comes to taking care of COVID patients and we also should remember it’s not all about COVID patients, we have other patients with other conditions that needs to be taken care of. The human resource part is the part that bothers me most, our nurses our doctors working and everybody is overwhelmed, everybody have gone past their limits but again I want to stress that it’s message was towards the Belizean populace, it’s not getting tangled with no politician or no government or no party or that kind of thing, it was for the Belizean people to know where we stand, the bare truth, the raw truth because only so, we can curve this pandemic.”
Reporter: “How dire does the situation from your point of view being inside the hospital, how dire is it?”
Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist: “Dire, dire, dire, dire, how much more times can I say dire. We’re up s-creek, we stand bad, we’re messed up, I don’t know what in Spanish, estamos jodidos. Definitely that is what I want to tell the people, countless cases where people go to the hospital can’t get admitted, they are waiting in their cars, the parking lot, they have to go home back. We don’t see them yet being strewn across the street but if we continue like this, within a week or two you might indeed see people dying in their cars waiting and the waiting areas and so forth. We are there, so Belizean people please, this is for you, let’s do things differently.”
Cuellar went on to indicate that with more testing and manpower the situation could be curbed. He also noted that not all of the procedures require medical professionals.
Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist: “We need more testing for sure throughout the country, we need more contact tracers, we need to hire younger people, we don’t need to be doctor or nurses to do swabbing and testing, a 6th former, 4th former can do that, they can do the contact traces and I always say no insult me by tell we you no have the money, unno find the money. You find the money, we fight the virus, we isolate the virus and our economy will also prosper. I am not one of those for full lockdowns for sure, we have to get our livelihood back and we have to do these targeted strategic measures and I think that the ministry has announced that they are going to do, then I’m glad but I’m definitely not one for the full lockdown. I want to also ask my colleagues my professional colleagues to speak up some more, technocrats on a whole speak up and not be bullyragged by the politicians and say the truth, it’s for the good of the country.”
As Dr Cuellar speaks on the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases and the availability of space at the various medical facilities, the Director of Health Services in yesterday’s conference gave a breakdown of what is available countrywide for Covid-19 patients.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “In terms of the surge plan that we have which would allow us to make specific areas for COVID-19. So I’m gonna give you what would be for now classified as COVID-19 specific beds for persons under investigation. Six available in Punta Gorda, Five in Corozal, two in Orange Walk, Belmopan was full to capacity depending if they have persons under investigation. Southern Health Region which is in Dangriga had three beds available, Independence had four and of course Karl Huesner has the ability to expand up to twenty eight and they had twelve persons confirmed and two under investigation that they were about because they were about fifty percent at bed capacity. Of course part of the search plan that we have once you have reached this hundred percent you can expand further but then you have to shut down other areas of the hospital and determine whether you convert that into a COVID-19 hospital. But this is for now the beds available specifically for COVID-19 patients.”