Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, announced in Parliament last Friday that at least 100 specialist nurses and one doctor from Cuba were expected in Barbados shortly to boost the complement of public health professionals dealing with COVID-19.
Minister Bostic reported that he had received confirmation from the Cuban Ambassador to Barbados last Thursday that Barbados’ request to the Government of Cuba for technical assistance had been approved.
The details, he said, were currently being worked on to facilitate the arrival of the team and Barbados was also hoping to access the services of additional doctors going forward.
The Health and Wellness Minister stated: “The Government of Barbados is grateful to the Government of Cuba to be able to facilitate this. And this is extremely important in this fight because moving from a six-bed facility at Enmore to the facility at Harrison Point, which will have at least 38 critical care beds for COVID-19, and by this I mean beds with ventilators, and also a facility for serious patients who may not require the use of ventilators, this obviously will place a strain on the existing staff at the QEH.”
He said that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital will continue to be insulated from handling COVID-19 cases and be allowed to focus on producing the high quality healthcare service to the public that they would normally be able to access there.
The arrival of the Cubans, he shared, would therefore allow Government to have increased numbers of healthcare workers to place on rotation to ensure that the isolation and quarantine facilities for COVID-19 are fully staffed at all times.
Minister Bostic was leading debate on a Bill to amend the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Act Cap 54 to make provision for the designation of appropriate lands or buildings to be considered to be part of the QEH.
He explained: “I would have indicated several weeks ago that we are planning at all levels for however this particular virus develops in terms of spread, and since we do not know exactly what is going to happen, we have to give ourselves the flexibility to be able to utilize other facilities as needed, or in some cases, change the use of facilities.”
The Bill, therefore, gives the Minister of Health and Wellness, by order, the ability to designate as part of the QEH any lands or buildings that he deems fit to be used as such.
Minister Bostic revealed that the Ministry and the QEH have also been in talks with representatives of some private medical facilities, which may be able to provide additional space, if necessary.
He also gave Parliament an update on the work at Harrison Point, noting that the construction phase was “very advanced” and some specialized equipment had already arrived.