Persons who are experiencing mild symptoms which they suspect may be COVID-19 related have been asked to contact the COVID-19 hotline or the help desk at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) first, instead of going directly to the Accident and Emergency Department (A&E).
Consultant, with the Accident and Emergency Department, Dr. Chaynie Williams, said the hospital would be treating those persons with moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms. She was addressing the most recent COVID-19 update and press briefing this morning.
“We are discouraging persons with mild symptoms from coming to the Emergency Department. That department is really for those with moderate to severe complaints, [that is] those people who are so short of breath, their sentences are not complete. If you are having chest pains and you are not breathing properly and your relatives don’t like how you look, we stand ready to offer care and assistance for the moderate to severe complaint,” she emphasised.
Dr. Williams disclosed that the QEH diagnosed at least 10 people in the last week with COVID-19. However, she stated that she was not advising persons to stay home if they were not feeling well, but urged them to call either the COVID hotline at 536-4500 or the QEH’s help desk at 536-4800, so they could be guided accordingly by healthcare professionals, based on their symptoms.
She added that those 10 positive cases presented with respiratory and non-respiratory complaints and were transferred to one of the isolation facilities after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Consultant explained that if persons who were unsure still turned up at the Emergency Department they would be assessed and depending on the risk or severity of their symptoms, they may be referred to the nearby 24-hour service at the Winston Scott Polyclinic.
“That is because we are referring you to the appropriate facility for your level of complaint so that the Emergency Department can continue with those persons with life-threatening or severe illnesses,” she stated.
Dr. Williams said the hospital was not overwhelmed by the surge in cases as it had prepared for such an eventuality several months in advance.
“The containment strategies of having persons isolated in facilities and not within the walls of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital have been to our benefit as we are the lone hospital offering tertiary level care to the public. We still wanted to maintain services as persons will still be delivering babies, and surgeries and dialysis still needed to be conducted on a daily basis,” she explained, adding that the original A&E department had been relocated to an annex in 6th Avenue Bellville, St. Michael while there was a separate assessment unit and holding bay at the hospital for suspected COVID-19 cases.
She further stated that in an effort to preserve its resources, specifically supplies and equipment, the hospital had curtailed its outpatient services as well as elective surgeries so it could respond adequately to emergencies.