As part of its response to the ongoing national COVID-19 pandemic, the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) has instituted new measures and is in the process of tweaking some of its programmes.
Manager of the NCSA, Betty Hunte, disclosed that the agency had instituted systems to deal with a “‘what if’ scenario” which required them to respond to a potential COVID-19 situation.
She was at the time speaking on the topic: Preparing for the Storm: NCSA and COVID-19, in a special edition of the NCSA’s newsletter entitled: Looking at Substance Abuse Through the Eyes of COVID-19.
She explained that as an initial measure, the NCSA converted an existing office space into an isolation room to accommodate staff who may feel unwell, until they can receive medical attention.
“This room is downstairs away from day-to-day staff operations. We retrofitted the room with a cot and items of PPE [personal protective equipment],” she stated.
The Manager added that the agency’s Health and Safety Committee provided emergency guidelines which were affixed in strategic areas around the office.
In addition, she noted that staff members were also sensitized about the virus by Dr. Adrian Lorde, who provided them with a practical approach to the disease and answered their myriad questions.
However, Mrs. Hunte noted that while the staff worked from home during the lockdown, they were now back in office and were continuing to adjust the agency’s programme to ensure that its mandate of drug prevention and education can continue.
“Even though this pandemic has brought home for us the necessity to be innovative, it has also underscored the need for us to be compassionate and unselfish, even as we continue to support our clients who need our services more than ever at this time,” she said.
However, she pointed out that the NCSA was not immune to the challenges faced by its staff, who themselves cared for elderly parents and children, headed houses and may also be compromised by pre-existing conditions. “We are all in this together; no retreat and no surrender,” she emphasized.