JIS News

Consultant Anaesthesiologist at the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital, Dr. Peter Scarlett, says the new Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC) High-Dependency Unit (HDU) building has proven to be timely as the country deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

The building, which was erected under the EU-funded PROMAC at a cost of $329 million, was officially opened on June 5 by Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton. It houses HDUs for high-risk mothers and critically ill neonates.

In an interview with JIS News following the official opening, Dr. Scarlett pointed out that the unit is a key component in the effective treatment of pregnant mothers who are COVID-19 positive, and that the treatment of a recent case, although not COVID positive, tested the readiness of the facility.

“This unit has three isolation rooms, which are equipped with negative pressure, and, therefore, are suitable for managing viral infections like COVID-19 or tuberculosis. These rooms were earmarked to manage such patients and we actually had two patients recently, a mother and a baby who were suspected to be COVID-19 positive,” he said.

Dr. Scarlett explained that when the mother came in, the delivery was done in a designated operating theatre for COVID-19 surgeries and that both patients, mother and baby, were placed in designated isolation rooms and this yielded good outcomes.

He pointed out that although the patients’ tests were eventually returned negative, “it could easily have been positive, and in which case we were able to adequately manage and, of course, protect staff and patients alike”.

For her part, Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Her Excellency Malgorzata Wasilewska, said it was “sheer coincidence, or some may say divine intervention, that this equipment arrived and these units are being opened up to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

According to the Head of Delegation, for public health epidemics and pandemics, such as COVID-19, which have devastating social and economic consequences, many lessons have been learned.

She pointed to the importance of appropriately investing in universal healthcare, how interconnected persons are, how the health of one can affect the health and well-being of many and the society in general, and the imperative of solidarity – working together in partnership towards a common goal.

“The European Union recognises the importance of a strong national health system as one of the most important public good of a nation, and is continuing to support Jamaica and the Caribbean to achieve this end,” she said.

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