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COVID-19 pandemic telephone support line for children

Tuesday 31 March: Bermuda Hospitals Board’s Child & Adolescent Services (CAS) team is offering telephone support for families with children who are worried or fearful about the COVID-19 pandemic.

CAS offers mental health services for children up to 18 years old. Usually delivering services from the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI), the CAS team offering telephone support for any children who may feel heightened fears or worries due to the pandemic. Parents of the children themselves can call 249-3370 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Jayne Isaacs, Manager of Child & Adolescent Services, comments: “This special COVID-19 pandemic telephone support service is for parents and children who may be struggling with fears and worries about illness, being isolated or about coping with all the changes. During these challenging times, we are here to support families with children who need help. Being stuck at home with schools closed, public transport suspended and without normal supports from family and friends, can be incredibly challenging for families. We are not used to these restrictions and families who need help with the stress and anxiety caused by our situation, can call to speak to our mental health experts.”

31 March 2020 Home Page, News

Only essential visiting now allowed at BHB

Friday 20 March 2020: Bermuda Hospitals Board today announces that it will be further restricting visitors to its facilities, following the confirmation of two COVID-19 cases in the community. People are being advised not to visit patients or residents, other than in exceptional circumstances, such as newborns (the mother’s partner, or one close relative of friend if there is no partner), unwell children (parents only), or people near the end of life.

Additionally, outpatient activity is being critically reviewed, with the aim of only seeing people in person by exception. All other patients will either have appointments postponed if they are stable, or offered a remote consultation (for example, by phone). People with outpatient appointments will be each contacted directly. Elective hyperbaric treatments sometimes used for wound care, have been suspended, and BHB is reviewing closing down even to emergency treatments. These are mostly diving accidents, but the oxygen from the hyperbaric chamber will be needed if multiple people with COVID-19 need ventilator and/or oxygen support in the hospital.

As previously announced, diagnostic and lab tests are now by appointment only (no walk ins), and the focus is now on urgent tests, rather than routine activity. The Emergency Department is also asking people to come alone if possible, or just one companion if essential. This is to reduce the number of people in the waiting room and help Emergency patients, who are more likely to be in an at risk group, to maintain a physical distance from each other while they wait. Parents who are seeking treatment for themselves are advised not to bring their children with them.

Michael Richmond, Chief of Staff, comments: “BHB is finding ways to reduce opportunities for the virus to spread by temporarily reducing the foot traffic in its hospitals, and minimising numbers of people in waiting rooms together. This supports physical distancing that, along with hand washing and not touching your eyes, nose or mouth, are key ways people can protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. Government has taken decisive action to minimise the potential spread of COVID-19 and BHB is in complete support. The community must adhere to these restrictions, abide by quarantine and isolation rules, or else the healthcare system could be overwhelmed as has happened in countries such as Italy. BHB is doing everything in its power to prepare for increased demand, but we have limits. If we as a community do not control the spread of COVID-19, the numbers of critically ill patients could rise precipitously and the ability for the healthcare system to support those who are most critically ill will be put at risk.”

20 March 2020 Home Page, News

COVID-19 protections for KEMH diagnostic services

Wednesday 18 March 2020: Bermuda Hospitals Board is today moving to an appointment-only system for routine Imaging Services and Lab tests. This doesn’t affect diagnostics for patients referred through KEMH or MWI inpatient or Emergency care.

“People will no longer be able to walk in for appointments in Lab and Imaging Services, and will need to call to make an appointment,” explains Anthony Fitzgerald, Vice President, Clinical Operations (KEMH).  “This is a precautionary measure so we can do a quick telephone triage before they come in. It will also reduce the number of individuals waiting together and the volume of foot traffic through the hospital.  This encourages the physical distancing that is needed to minimise the transmission of COVID-19. While there are no COVID-19 cases confirmed in Bermuda at this time, this process change will help protect staff and patients in the hospital at a time we are on heightened alert.”

To make an appointment, please call 239-2032 for Laboratory appointments (blood and urine tests), 239-1144 for Imaging Services X-ray, CT, MRI; 239-1223 for Ultrasound, Mammography and Nuclear Medicine; and 239-1416 for the Cardiac Diagnostic Unit. For appointments made days or weeks in advance, patients are asked to call before turning up if they have any symptoms such as fever, dry cough or difficulty breathing.

“These diagnostic services need to continue to support the health needs of Bermuda,” says Mr Fitzgerald. “By moving to appointments only, we can have a level of protection in place.”

17 March 2020 Home Page, News

BHB restricts visitation to protect patients, staff and supplies

Sunday 15 March 2020: Bermuda Hospitals Board today announces the introduction of visitor restrictions to all BHB facilities, KEMH, MWI and group homes, in an effort to safeguard patients against potential COVID-19 infections in the community, and preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves and gowns for frontline staff at a time of global shortage.

Judy Richardson, Chief of Nursing, comments: “We do not take this step lightly, as we recognize the power of family in visiting people when they are unwell, or vulnerable. But we also have to acknowledge that a COVID-19 infection can be much more serious and deadly for seniors and people with existing medical conditions – and these are the people we care for.”

The restrictions across all facilities are effective immediately and are as follows:

  • For general acute care patients, long term care and residential units, only immediate family/carers will be allowed to visit.
  • For patients on isolation (wherever they are), only one visitor will be allowed, once per day.

BHB offers free wi-fi for patients and visitors, so strongly recommends that anyone in hospital brings or is given a smart phone or mobile device by their loved ones with video messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Skype, etc.

Dr Michael Richmond, Chief of Staff, explains: “We apologise to people who want to visit their loved ones, but hope they understand we must put our patients and staff first.  Many people do not get seriously ill from COVID-19 or have no symptoms at all, so we anticipate someone could inadvertently visit their loved one and infect them. Additionally, we need to preserve personal protective equipment in the face of global shortages. We are preparing in case COVID-19 is an issue for many months, or longer. Our expectation is that we may have to close visiting at some point if COVID-19 spreads locally, but this balance gives patients and residents some access to the love and support of their families, while reducing the risks of exposure and preserving personal protective equipment.”

People are reminded not to visit their loved ones if they feel unwell with fever, dry cough, trouble breathing or any other symptoms. They should also not visit if they have returned from overseas, or been in contact with someone with the above symptoms, in the last 14 days.

15 March 2020 Home Page, News

BHB suspends non-emergency surgery to prepare for COVID-19 threat

Sunday 15 March 2020: Bermuda Hospitals Board today announces the suspension of non-urgent, elective surgery as it prepares for a potential increased number of critically ill patients with COVID-19. This will allow for surgical and operating theatre staff to be upskilled and trained in the basics of critical care management as rapidly as possible.

Emergency and urgent, including cancer, surgeries will continue.

Dr Richmond, Chief of Staff, comments: “We do not take this step lightly and apologise to elective surgery patients who will no doubt feel frustration, anxiety and upset.  We are, however, facing an unprecedented situation. As an island we do not have access to a bank of staff to just bring in to work, so we are looking to maximise the resources we have to care for the most critically ill who may come to us.

“We do not have confirmed COVID-19 cases yet in Bermuda, but we have to prepare in case they do come and in case the situation escalates quickly, as has happened elsewhere. We cannot wait to start the training. At the moment it is unknown when the worst will be over, so unfortunately I can’t provide a date when surgeries will resume. We will constantly monitor the situation, however, and re-start as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Dr Richmond, concludes: “I would add that all the preventative measures individuals can take will help the hospital and entire health system cope and save lives. We can slow down the spread by washing hands; not touching our faces; coughing and sneezing into tissues; wearing masks if we are sick; and avoiding groups, meetings, shaking hands and hugs. This will give us the opportunity to manage the demand on healthcare more effectively. If we do not act as individuals and a community, we may experience a sudden peak and the healthcare system could struggle.”

15 March 2020 Home Page, News

Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre Maintains 6-10pm Weekday Hours In March

Tuesday 3 March 2020: Bermuda Hospitals Board today confirms that the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre (UCC) will continue to operate on weekdays from 6pm to 10pm, with no x-ray service until further notice. Weekend hours will remain as normal, from mid-day to mid-night, with a full service including x-ray. The weekday hours were implemented in December as part of BHB’s ‘Winter Plan’, to help reduce wait times in Emergency and improve access to inpatient beds over a very busy time of year.

Keeping to these weekday hours at the UCC allows BHB to focus resources on the KEMH Emergency Department, where high numbers of unwell people are still coming with seasonal respiratory illnesses and flu.

Dr Chikezie Dean Okereke, Chief of Emergency, comments: “We are grateful for the understanding of the community, especially in the East End, while we focus on caring for the increasing numbers of unwell people in the Emergency Department. On top of usual winter infectious respiratory diseases such as flu, we are also preparing in the event of a covid-19 outbreak in Bermuda. This will further pressure resources and we need to make sure we can care for people who have more serious symptoms. It is why we cannot stress enough for people to call their doctor or the Emergency Department if they believe they have been exposed to covid-19 or are experiencing fever or dry cough. This way you can be assessed and advised quickly, and you also protect other people in the waiting rooms and healthcare facilities – both patients and staff.”

Dr Okereke adds: “This was the first year BHB proactively devised and followed a winter plan to help us manage the yearly winter pressures and care for those most in need during this period. Comparing 16 December to 23 February this year to the same period last year, there was a very small 0.2% reduction in, or 11 fewer, individual visits to the Emergency Department (5,936 this year compared to 5,925 last year). However, there were 52 more admissions (896 compared to 844), or a rise of 6.2%, indicating more seriously ill patients. By having more resources in Emergency, booking time to discharge decreased on average by 49 minutes, or 14.7% (333 minutes to 284 minutes), with the wait for admissions to an inpatient bed dropping by 25.2% from 1,070 minutes to 800 minutes. The improved and more timely service resulted in more people being cared for and better patient flow, as 108 fewer people left before they were seen or treated, a drop of 64.4% (68 compared to 176 the previous year).”

People who are concerned about exposure to covid-19, or believe they have an infectious respiratory illness, should not turn up at a healthcare facility, but first call from home to their doctor’s office, the Emergency Department at 239-1301 or 239-1474 or during opening hours at the Lamb Foggo UCC 298-7700. They will be assessed over the phone and advised on next steps.

3 March 2020 Home Page, News

People Concerned About Covid-19 Urged to Call Before Turning Up to Emergency

Tuesday 25 February 2020: Bermuda Hospitals Board today stresses that people who believe they have been exposed to the new coronavirus, covid-19, due to their travel history to a high risk country, or following contact with someone who has covid-19, should call their healthcare provider or the Emergency Department and not just turn up for medical help.

Chief of Emergency, Dr Chikezie Dean Okereke, says: “We are being proactive. We are all relieved by the news that there haven’t been any covid-19 cases in Bermuda yet. We have a great opportunity to establish practices to limit its spread should that change. Most importantly, by calling their primary care doctor or the Emergency Department first, people can get help quickly over the phone. They don’t have to wait. And they can save the lives of others.

Dr Dean Okereke, Chief of Emergency

“Eighty per cent of people may not even need medical treatment as the symptoms can be mild or not even felt. Individuals should stay at home and call their doctor or the Emergency Department for advice. This is critical for preventing the spread of covid-19 to the individuals who could be really harmed by it. Seniors, people who have diabetes or heart disease, and people undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy who may be immunocompromised, are at most risk of serious illness from covid-19.”

BHB and the Ministry of Health have collaborated to establish a set of questions that will assess someone’s risks and need for treatment over the phone.

“Usually people are triaged when they arrive in Emergency to identify their needs,” Dr Okereke explains. “This is a type of telephone triage. By calling from home first, we can quickly assess your needs and advise on your next steps. For seriously ill people, the hospital has negative pressure rooms on every floor of the acute care wing that prevent pathogens coming out of the care room on the air, and our staff are equipped and trained in dealing with infectious diseases. Covid-19 spreads in a similar way to colds and flu, so even though it is a new virus, the way to minimise its spread are very well known to us, and existing disinfectant, soap and water and hand sanitizers will kill it. Four out of five people infected with covid-19 will not be seriously ill based on what is currently known. For those who have more serious complications, we are ready.”

Click here for a short video “Call, Don’t Just Turn Up!”

25 February 2020 Home Page, News

Winter hours at Lamb Foggo UCC extended to February

Friday 31 January 2020: Bermuda Hospitals Board today announces that the weekday winter opening hours at the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre of 6-10pm will continue until the end of February, with a nurse and physician service, but no x-ray. On weekends, the UCC will operate as normal from midday to midnight, with the usual full service including x-ray.

The winter hours were introduced on 16 December 2019 as part of BHB’s proactive winter planning to focus resources on the Emergency Department where flu and respiratory illnesses drive up attendances. Originally planned to end on 31 January, the reduced hours have been extended as attendances in the Emergency Department are still rising.

Chief of Emergency Dr Chikezie Dean Okereke comments: “It is unfortunate, but our Emergency Department continues to experience an increase in flu and respiratory illness related attendances. We had hoped to have got through the worst pressures of the season, but each year the peak in attendances can vary. The temporary reduction in weekday hours keeps the UCC open when it is busiest, but allows us to focus resources where the clinical need is greatest and ensure patients with the most pressing medical needs are attended to in a more timely manner.”

Should the causeway close for any reason and at any time, the UCC will open in line with current practice.


31 January 2020 Home Page, News

UCC Temporarily Reduces Weekday Hours From 16 December to 31 January 2020

Thursday 12 December: As part of its winter planning, Bermuda Hospitals Board today announces that between 16 December 2019 and 31 January 2020, week time opening hours at the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre will be 6pm-10pm, rather than 4pm-midnight, and during these reduced weekday hours there will not be an x-ray service.  Weekend hours will remain unchanged during this time and the UCC will operate as usual with an x-ray service from mid-day to midnight.

Weekday hours along with a weekday x-ray service will return to normal from 1 February 2020.

The change keeps the UCC open during its busiest hours. However, the reduced weekday hours allow more staff to be present in the KEMH Emergency Department helping keep wait times down for a larger group of patients.

Chief of Emergency, Dr Chikezie Dean Okereke, comments: “We are planning for a busy winter period when flu and respiratory illnesses bring more people to the Emergency Department. Our focus is to prioritise the ED service during this time, where clinical need is greatest. This will help keep the ED wait times down and ensure patients with the most pressing medical needs are attended to in a timely manner. Our hope is that the shorter week day hours at the UCC will free enough staff to manage high demand in the ED, although we will closely monitor the situation throughout to ensure the care needs of our community are met.”

Dr Okereke adds: “Should the causeway close for any reason, the UCC will open in line with current practice. The reduced weekday hours are a proactive, temporary measure to better plan emergency care for the island over some of our busiest months. We thank East End residents for their understanding and we look forward to resuming normal operating hours in February.”

12 December 2019 Home Page, News

New Clinical Director of Mental Health Services at MWI

Wednesday 4 December 2019: BHB today announces that Tawanna Wedderburn has been appointed as the new Clinical Director of Mental Health Services at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. She takes on the role from Monday 9 December 2019 as Mr Glenn Caisey, who held the position for more than 20 years, is retiring from this post.

Reporting to the Vice President, Clinical Operations (MWI), Mr Preston Swan, the Clinical Director of Mental Health Services is responsible for the quality and direction of community and inpatient mental health services for adults and Child & Adolescent Services.

Mr Swan comments: “I am very pleased to welcome Ms Wedderburn back to MWI in this critical role. I would like to thank Mr Caisey for his leadership and dedicated service over many years. We expect a smooth transition of leadership with Ms Wedderburn’s experience and understanding of MWI and mental health in Bermuda and are looking forward to exciting times in the mental health arena. MWI employees are in the early stages of developing services with amazing partners such as Johns Hopkins and most recently East London NHS Trust who have shared their experiences on their quality improvement journey within mental health. Ms Wedderburn is well placed to lead the team in this process as we seek to improve outcomes for people in Bermuda suffering from mental illness.”

Ms Wedderburn worked at MWI in Child and Adolescent Services for six years between 2002 and 2008 as a family therapist and Acting Programme Manager following two years working as a crisis intervention worker in Toronto. She worked as an adoption worker then family consultant for the Department of Child and Family Services between 2002 and 2010. She has a keen interest in ethics and was a long serving member of the BHB Ethics Committee. From 2007 to 2018 she was employed by the Bermuda Health Council as Programme Manager from 2007, the Director of Health Regulation from 2011 and CEO from 2015.

Ms Wedderburn achieved a Bachelor of Arts from York University in 1993, a Masters of Social Work from the University of Toronto in 1998 and gained a post graduate certificate in couple and family therapy from the University of Guelph in 2006. She has received additional training in health systems and health insurance from the World Bank, Harvard University’s School of Public Health and Schulich School of Business. She sits on the Board of the Westmeath Residential and Nursing Care Home, and the Berkeley Institute Board of Governors. She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, and Bermuda Counselors Association.

Ms Wedderburn comments: “I’m excited to be returning to MWI in this leadership role as we work to update the strategy for mental health services in Bermuda. I already know there is a wonderful team of professionals and support staff in place providing high quality services, and I look forward to working with them and our external partners to further develop mental health services.”

4 December 2019 Home Page, News
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