Nurses, MAJ call for measures to curtail COVID-19 surge as hospitals buckle under pressure

NAJ President Patsy Edwards Henry and MAJ President Dr. Brian James
Pressure is mounting on the Andrew Holness-led administration to put in additional measures to deal with the current surge in COVID-19 cases.
The latest calls are from the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) and the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ). 
The NAJ has joined calls for the island's health facilities to begin operating in emergency mode only.
Patsy Edwards Henry, President of the Nurses Association of Jamaica President, says the situation at hospitals and other health facilities is worsening and warrants urgent action. 
"[W]e are having routine clinics, we are having routine admissions and everything seems to be business as usual. [But] hat has been happening is that a number of nurses at all the institutions are becoming ill, and with this fourth wave of COVID, a number of patients are also becoming ill and the admission rates are slowly but surely increasing," she warned. 
In addition to the Kingston Public Hospital and University Hospital of the West Indies operating at full bed capacity, the NAJ president said other hospitals are severely affected. 
"The Mandeville Regional Hospital is full. The May Pen Hospital had to say that they can only manage emergencies now," she revealed.  
The NAJ is to discuss the matter with the Minister of Health during a meeting set for Tuesday.
On Saturday, the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA) noted the severe strain on hospitals caused by the surge and the large number of doctors who have been infected or are in quarantine.
The Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) has also expressed its concern that the severe strain on hospitals due to COVID-19 will worsen if swift action is not taken by the authorities to reduce the spike in cases.
MAJ President Dr. Brian James is especially worried about the increase in critically ill COVID-19  patients.
Critically ill patients require oxygenation support and highly specialised staff. 
"Today, we have 486 COVID positive patients in hospital, including 18 critical ill - the 18 is from yesterday. When I checked earlier, we are way up in the 20s, maybe about 26 or 27. So, the critically ill, that number is becoming a cause for major concern. The hospitals have to be suspending routine services and what that causes is suffering among patients who are not COVID positive and are there for other reasons like cancer or diabetes or hypertension. So it is a bad situation that we are in now," he explained. 
Dr. James has intensified the call for the government to halt face-to-face classes for the rest of the month.
He also wants Prime Minister Andrew Holness to increase the nightly curfew and re-impose the mandatory work-from-home order for public sector workers. 
"The curfew times, I think if we put it back to the 8 o'clock then we would be able to blunt the wave a little bit, in addition to actually stringently enforcing the rules that are in place, the restrictions that are in place, the curfews, mask mandates, etc."
"The other thing that we are now thinking might very well be helpful is if we could resume the work from home arrangements that we had up to a few months ago, and all of those things, they have been shown to be helpful in the past in limiting the extent of the waves and there is no reason to believe that they would not be successful this time," he suggested. 

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