About Anna Nowak

Team established to support adults with intellectual disabilities at home

Monday 19 July 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board today announced the establishment of a community team that will help and support adult (over 18) intellectual disability clients and their families at home.

The team is part of the Intellectual Disability Directorate, which is based at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute with residential care offered in 14 group homes across Bermuda.

Community Intellectual Disabilities Team (CIDT) clinical manager, Christopher Cunningham, explains: “There is a pressing need for better support for adults with intellectual disability who live at home with their families. People who have intellectual disabilities can live full and wonderful lives at home with their families, and we can help this happen with a strong support service for them. We don’t want families to struggle on their own, or see their loved ones deteriorate because they can’t access the support they need.”

“By providing a support service for clients who live with their families, we want to improve access to safe and equitable care, empower clients and their families to be actively involved in their health care, increase levels of independence, and help clients develop new skills so they can thrive in their community.”

The team is multi-disciplinary, which means that individuals from a number of different professions work together to meet the needs of the clients and their families. The team includes a nurse, rehabilitation therapist, rehab aides, psychology assistant, case manager clinical assistant and is the process of recruiting for an occupational therapist, speech and language pathologist and physiotherapist to complete the group.

Intellectual Disability Director, Morrisa Rogers, adds: “We are thrilled to see the Community Intellectual Disability team established – this has been a long plan in the making. The need is there, and we believe there are many families who could benefit from our support, but who are currently struggling on their own. We want to better support families and their loved ones with intellectual disabilities so they can flourish in their homes. They may have additional needs, but intellectual disabilities should not stop anyone from being able to live a full and loving life on their own terms.”

The service is available via referral from physicians or other agencies, and individuals can contact the service directly if they believe they need it. They should call 249-3807 or 239-3803.

To be eligible, to access the community intellectual disability team service, an individual must be over 18 and have an intellectual disability as defined by the World Health Organisation means an individual has a significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills (impaired intelligence) and a reduced ability to cope independently (impaired social function) which started before adulthood with a lasting effect on development (life-long condition). The individual also needs to have a presenting health need that requires intervention from the CIDT, and the person’s intellectual disability is directly impacting their ability to have this health need met through mainstream service.

19 July 2021 Home Page, News

BHB Pathology Department maintains accreditation

Monday 12 July 2021: The Pathology Department at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital has once more maintained specialised laboratory accreditation with the Joint Commission International (JCI). Accreditation is assessment of patient safety and quality standards. This is Pathology’s sixth JCI survey, which it has successfully achieved each time since 2006.

The Pathology Department at KEMH includes the laboratory areas that do diagnostic testing, from blood and urine to biopsies, the morgue, transfusion services, including the Bermuda Blood Donor Centre, and the phlebotomy staff who draw blood.

This is the first time the accreditation process has been completed remotely for Pathology, due to the pandemic, but this did not diminish its rigor. The survey was carried out in mid-May.

Danee Swan, Quality Manager in Pathology, comments: “The survey was carried out remotely, but was still intense and rigorous. We had to give two detailed presentations to our surveyor and sent a lot of advance documentation. During the survey week, surveyor requested specific tests from specific dates and trace processes, staff competencies and patient results. This was an extremely demanding process that traced tests from the patient – whether in an inpatient bed or outpatient lab – to the delivery of results. We are very pleased to have been awarded accreditation status.”

Kathy Stephens, Pathology Manager, comments: “We are accredited by Accreditation Canada as part of the hospital-wide process, but Pathology has also sought specialised laboratory accreditation with JCI since 2006, and we have successfully achieved it every three years since then. It is a testament to Pathology’s ongoing pursuit of excellence, ensuring we follow the highest patient safety and quality standards.”

Dr Clyde Wilson, Chief of Pathology, comments: “I would like to thank and congratulate the Pathology staff who work tirelessly every day to meet the highest standards to ensure our tests are accurate and timely. Through the year we have had to adapt constantly to the changing restrictions of the pandemic as the surges have come and gone and included new testing for COVID-19. We undertake about 3.5 million tests a year in the lab, but every one is significant to the individual patient, and at the heart of accreditation is our focus on patient care, doing the best we can for the people who need answers about their health.”

12 July 2021 Home Page, News

Blood donor winners announced

Friday 9 July 2021: The Bermuda Blood Donor Centre today was pleased to present blood donors Jason Kyme and Lorraine King with a prize each, donated by Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. The two prizes were a weekend stay at the hotel, and a champagne brunch.

Included in one draw were the most active regular blood donors, and in the other all new donors, based on donations made over the last twelve months.

Dr Eyitayo Fakunle, Consultant Haematolgoist, who oversees the Blood Donor Centre comments: “We would very much like to thank all our new and regular donors who week in and week out help us save lives throughout the year. This raffle was a way for us to recognise the tireless giving of our donors. Thank you to Hamilton Princess for helping us celebrate their generosity.”

From left to right in the photo: Alma Lou Polinar-Swainson (Phlebotomy Nurse), Susan Deverteuil (Phlebotomy Nurse), Lorraine King (blood donor), Dr Clyde Wilson (Chief of Pathology), Tim Morrison (General Manager, Hamilton Princess), Dr Eyitayo Fakunle (Consultant Haematologist), Jason Kyme (blood donor), Dawnette Been (Senior Technologist, Blood Donor Centre and Transfusion Services) and Kathy Stephens (Manager, Pathology)

9 July 2021 Home Page, News

BHB and BIU sign three-year agreement

Thursday 1 July 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board and Bermuda Industrial Union today announce the completion of negotiations and signing of the three-year collective bargaining agreement on behalf of all BIU staff at KEMH and MWI. The agreement will last up to October 2021.

To officially complete the process, a signing was held at the BIU headquarters in Hamilton for members of the two negotiating teams.

R Scott Pearman, BHB Deputy CEO, comments: “Although negotiations have taken some time, I’d like to recognise the hard work of both BHB and BIU negotiating teams in reaching an amicable agreement.  COVID-19 has been a disruptive force to the process, but we have all adjusted and kept going. I must give a sincere appreciation for the BIU leadership and BIU hospital membership during what has been an incredibly challenging time for people working in healthcare. BIU staff include aides, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), environmental services staff, community care workers, laundry operators, maintenance personnel, orderlies, sterile processing technicians and food services employees. They are very much involved directly or in support of frontline care. Not only have they worked tirelessly to keep services running during the pandemic, but they have also stepped up to the plate in helping the hospital manage costs.  They supported the pension and social insurance holidays, and while base pay remained stable, BIU members agreed last year to a temporary reduction in overtime rates. This has made a huge difference to BHB’s ability to meet its financial obligations to all its staff and keep services running throughout. Truly the BIU and its members have shown strength and compassion, and have played a major role in seeing our community and hospitals through this difficult time.

Chris Furbert, BIU President, agreed: “We are very pleased to be completing the current negotiations, which have reflected the good relationship between the BIU and BHB. We appreciate the good faith with which both parties came to the table. It has been a very difficult 18 months for BHB and Bermuda as well as our membership, but we have stayed at the course and ensured employee rights are supported and fair agreements made. We recognise the financial pressures the hospitals are under because of the pandemic as well as the additional burden BHB and its staff have shouldered. I am very proud of the BIU members’ efforts and commitment in their work, and we all recognised the crisis being faced and so were willing to help out where we could to ease the financial burden. We will all be rolling up our sleeves for the start of the next two year agreement negotiations in a few months, but we have built trusted relationships through this process and this will help us as we move on.”

1 July 2021 Home Page, News

Reduced deferral times for blood donor eligibility criteria

Wednesday 30 June 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board is today announcing revised blood donor eligibility criteria used in the Bermuda Blood Donor Centre. Eligibility criteria are part of the standards used to ensure the safest possible voluntary blood supply for people in Bermuda who need transfusions. Other standards include having a voluntary (not paid) blood supply, having regular donors and high-quality testing of all donated blood.

The main changes relate to eligibility criteria that protect the blood supply from certain viruses that can be transmitted through blood including malaria, HIV and variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (vCJD), the disease caused by exposure to meat infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease).

Dr Eyitayo Fakunle, consultant haematologist who oversees the Blood Donor Centre, comments: “The revised criteria reflect improved testing and research, which means we can safely reduce the wait time after certain activities, such as having tattoos or microblading, from 12 months to 3 months. Residents who previously couldn’t donate because they spent time in the Azores or Portugal between 1980 and 1996 can now donate which is great news.

“We do not want to discriminate against any individual, and we know it can upset people when our eligibility criteria mean they cannot donate blood.  These standards, however, help us manage serious risks and we always err on the side of safety. As we are a small country we do not have national policy-setting bodies on blood donation, so we follow the US and Canada as the two accrediting bodies who asses our safety standards are from those countries. Our expectation is that criteria will continue to evolve and reduce barriers for people who want to donate, while ensuring our blood supplies remain safe.”

Blood donations are used for people who need transfusions to treat conditions such as sickle cell anaemia and cancer, or as life-saving responses to blood loss, such as complications during birth, surgery or trauma.

Click here for the latest blood donor eligibility criteria factsheet.

What is changing?

Reduced deferrals for certain activities:
The following activities used to require a 12-month deferral, and now only have a three-month deferral. This is based on improved testing accuracy.
• Tattoos/microblading
• Travellers to malaria countries
• Men who have sex with other men (MSM)
• Women who have sex with MSM
• Individuals exposed to allergenic tissue through transplant or transfusions
• Contact with an open wound, non-intact skin, blood from another person
• A needle stick or sharp injury from an instrument used on another person
• Individuals treated for syphilis or gonorrhea
• Individuals who receive money, drugs or other payment for sex

vCJD country risks have been re-assessed:
An assessment of risks for variant Creutzfeld Jacob Disease (vCJD) in different countries has led to a change in criteria. People who have spent time in most European countries, including Portugal and the Azores, can now donate with the following exclusions:

• The criteria for the UK has not changed, which means people who spent three months or more (cumulative) in the UK (i.e. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or the Falkland Islands between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 1996 cannot donate.
• The criteria for Ireland and France have changed, and people who spent five years or more (cumulative) in those countries between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 2001 cannot donate.
• Anyone who has had a blood transfusion in the UK, Ireland or France from 1 January 1980 to present day still cannot donate.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why are restrictions for vCJD in the UK, Ireland and France still in place?
As this disease has a potential latent period of many decades and there is no way to either test for vCJD or filter blood to capture the prions that cause it, this is the only way we can make sure we keep this disease out of the blood supply for people in Bermuda. The risk in many European countries has been re-assessed, however, including the Azores and Portugal, and no deferral is needed for people who spent time in these countries. Click here for more information about vCJD and blood donation

Why can’t people who are incarcerated donate?
This standard remains in the US. We understand the frustration when criteria require a deferral, and certainly once the deferral period passes we welcome all people who can donate.

Why do men who have sex with men have to wait three months to donate?
The deferral has reduced from 12 months to three months, but we understand the hurt that this criteria causes. We are closely following developments in other countries. The UK first moved to a three month deferral, and saw no increased safety risks. Only just this month (June 2021) the UK removed the deferral and is the first country to do so. At this time the US criteria is three months and we are moving first in line with this standard, with the hope this will change in the future. Click here for more about this criteria.

Who are the accrediting bodies of the Blood Donor Centre? What do they do?
Accrediting bodies assess the Bermuda Blood Donor Centre through a process in surveyors review whether patient safety standards are being adhered to. The Bermuda Blood Donor Centre goes through a specialised lab accreditation with Joint Commission International (US-based) and is included in the hospital-wide accreditation process with Accreditation Canada. The Blood Donor Centre has to pass both accreditation standards.


30 June 2021 Home Page, News

New clinic integrates hospital care in the community

Monday 28 June 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board is now offering a number of hospital clinics at the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre, where mental health, diabetes, asthma and Patient-Centred Medical Home services are now available by appointment between 9am and 1pm on Wednesdays. The urgent care service will continue as usual, and open at 2pm until 10pm as it normally does on a weekday.

Called the Integrated Health Clinic (IHC), the delivery of these services together outside of the main hospital campuses is the first deliverable of a strategic integrated healthcare programme by BHB, led by Deputy CEO R Scott Pearman. The goal is to better meet the healthcare needs in Bermuda by improving service coordination and care pathways for patients to increase quality and patient outcomes, and decrease system costs.

Project lead for the IHC Dr Anna Neilson-Williams, Deputy Chief of Psychiatry, comments: “By integrating care currently only available at MWI or KEMH at the Lamb Foggo facility, BHB wants to help people manage health conditions nearer home. The overarching goal is to improve outcomes for people with chronic issues and support their needs in the community. This, in turn, will hopefully reduce emergency mental health and medical admissions, which are disruptive to patients’ lives and costly. Co-locating clinics also provides an opportunity for greater coordination and integration between healthcare providers as patients may need multiple services.”

Dr Neilson-Williams adds: “The opportunity in the near future will be to also add consultations for specialists, such as in cardiology and neurology, later on.”

Mr Pearman comments: “The IHC is starting at Lamb Foggo because it is an existing BHB facility and provides the hospital with an opportunity to increase utilisation of the facility by offering clinical services that are needed by the residents of the eastern parishes. The IHC is based on a neighbourhood service model therefore services will be by appointment only for residents of Smiths, Hamilton and St. George’s Parishes. The Urgent Care Centre will continue to serve all Bermuda residents. Residents of non-eastern parishes will continue to be seen at KEMH for their clinic appointments. Based on our experience at Lamb Foggo, our intention is to offer a similar IHC service in the West in the future. We remain very mindful of establishing and gradually building these services based on need.”

Mr Pearman adds: “Integrating care around the patient is at the heart of the new BHB strategy. This includes not just having clinics working together out in the community, but more integrated care pathways for patients within BHB services and in collaboration and partnership with the wider healthcare system. We look forward to keeping the community updated as we make improvements.”

Access to the clinics at the IHC is by referral from a physician. Individuals who are referred to these clinics will have the option of accessing the services at the hospitals or at the Lamb Foggo UCC, if they live in the east, when they are contacted for an appointment.

28 June 2021 Home Page, News

Freisenbruch Meyer wins Corporate Blood Drive Competition 2021

Monday 14 June 2021: The Ministry of Health and Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) are very pleased to announce that Freisenbruch Meyer has won the 2021 Corporate Blood Drive Competition. This is their second consecutive win.

The Corporate Blood Drive Competition this year was between eleven companies, who collectively raised 235 blood and 16 apheresis donations in the year running from June 2020 to June 2021, a total of 251 donations.

The second company was Lancashire Re, and third was Butterfield & Vallis. The other competing companies include: the Bermuda Police Service, Department of Health, Department of Corrections, Fidelity, Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Kitson Group of Companies, Pearman Washington and Renaissance Re.

This announcement is being made on World Blood Donor Day 2021, which this year Bermuda is helping launch for the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) region, along with Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Click here for a short video that celebrates the Freisenbruch Meyer win, and click here for an interview with Dr Ayoola Oyinloye, Bermuda’s Chief Medical Officer, and Andy Wright, CEO of Freisenbruch Meyer.

Mr Wright comments: “We are so proud to win the Corporate Blood Drive Competition for the second year running. This win is very much a reflection of the commitment of our employees, and I want to recognise them and thank them for continuing to give through a challenging year for us all. The competition is a way for us to support our employees, raise morale and give back to the community. I hope more companies will join in the friendly competition for next year. We are ready!”

Dr Eyitayo Fakunle, consultant haematologist overseeing the Bermuda Blood Donor Centre at BHB, comments: “I would like to thank the companies and their employees. We saw a sharp drop in the number of companies competing compared to 2020 when 22 companies took place due the pandemic, but the companies who did participate and their employees truly have made a difference. The theme of World Blood Donor Day this year is ‘Give blood and keep the world beating’. Our appreciation goes all our donors, as well as all those in the Corporate Blood Drive Competition. You have ensured life-saving transfusions kept Bermuda hearts beating this year.”

Dr Oyinloye comments: “Congratulations to Freisenbruch Meyer, and all participating companies. This competition has run against a backdrop of the pandemic, with more staff working from home, and changing restrictions. We recognise this might have made donating harder for everyone so I salute the companies who still signed up and especially their staff who continued to attend, and all donors who have kept coming in to save lives. The pandemic doesn’t change the fact that we have emergencies and people with conditions who need treatments that need blood and apheresis donations. Thank you, donors – you are honorary members of the essential services, continuing to give to care for our community through it all.”

Companies who want to join in the 2022 Bermuda Corporate Blood Drive can call 236-5067 or email blood.donor@bhb.bm.

14 June 2021 Home Page, News

Hamilton Princess supports call to encourage more blood donors

Thursday 10 June 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board and Bermuda Blood Donor Centre today thanked Hamilton Princess & Beach Club for their support on encouraging more blood and apheresis donors in Bermuda.

In support of World Blood Donor Day 2021, which is celebrated on 14 June, Hamilton Princess has donated a stay at the hotel and champagne brunch which will be offered as raffle prizes to Bermuda’s most active and also new donors, as well as sponsoring an online advertisement to encourage blood donation.

The Bermuda Blood Donor Centre will be putting the most active current regular donors who have donated blood or apheresis into a raffle for the stay at Hamilton Princess. New donors from the past 12 months, from today up until 18 June will be included in a raffle for the champagne lunch. Winners will be drawn and announced on 18 June.

Dr Eyitayo Fakunle, consultant haematologist at BHB, comments: “We are very grateful for this generous support with the goal of encouraging more blood donation in Bermuda. Hamilton Princess has been a regular participant of the Corporate Blood Donor Competition and so they are not only helping us encourage donation in Bermuda with their generous support, but they encourage their staff to give blood too. It is wonderful that we can thank our most active regular donors and celebrate the new donors this year. They are all helping save lives.”

Tim Morrison, general manager of the Hamilton Princess, comments: “No one knows when they might need a lifesaving blood donation and so it’s incredibly important for the public to be generous: you never know whose life you might save. As such, Hamilton Princess & Beach Club is proud to be able to do its part to support the Bermuda Hospitals Board in their drive to get as many people out ahead of World Donor Day on June 14th, with a weekend stay and a champagne brunch up for grabs.”

10 June 2021 News

Urgent care services open later on weekdays

Monday 31 May 2021: BHB today announces that the weekday hours of the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre (UCC) are changing, and the service will be available later into the evening while maintaining the same number of open hours.

From Tuesday 1 June 2021, the UCC will open from 2pm to 10pm every weekday and public holiday. Previously opening at noon until 8pm, the later start maintains the number of hours the UCC is open, but provides a later service. Weekend hours will stay the same from 9am to 9pm. An x-ray service will be available while the UCC service is open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. People can call the UCC at 298-7700 if they need to check the hours.

Dr Chikezie Dean Okereke, Chief of Emergency, comments: “These later opening times offer better coverage out of hours. It means we can be there later into the night for people with minor illnesses and injuries who need attention quickly, giving an alternative to waiting in the Emergency Department.”


31 May 2021 Home Page, News

BHB shares vaccination status data of hospitalised patients

Sunday 9 May 2021: BHB today shared data from 14 March to 1 May 2021 that has highlighted the protection vaccination against COVID-19 brings, even as people go through the immunisation process. The start date (14 March) was the day the first hospitalisation of the current surge occurred, after a period of some time with zero COVID-19 patients.

Dr Wesley Miller, Chief of Staff, comments: “Of the 92 people who were admitted to hospital since the latest surge started, the most at-risk group were people who were not vaccinated at all. They made up 88% of admissions (81 people). People who had one dose were in a minority of 11% (10 people). One person (1%) had two doses, but it was within two weeks of the shot meaning full immunity had not been achieved.

“With a significant portion of the population now either fully vaccinated or having had one shot, that these people make up such a small proportion of hospitalisations, indicates that there is a protective effect even before you reach full immunity, which is two weeks after your second shot. If vaccination didn’t work or caused more illness, the numbers would be very, very different. In fact, if we hadn’t had so many people vaccinated during this surge, hospitalisation numbers and deaths could have been higher.”

“It is also likely that as people who end up in hospital are usually at least two weeks post-infection, they may have been infected very soon before or after their first shot, when immunity is low.

“We should be reassured that we are seeing the same kinds of results in Bermuda as the rest of the world – vaccination is safe and protects you from serious illness and hospitalisation. The vaccine teaches your own immune system to recognise and fight the virus if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you are not fully immunised and fall ill, the next line of defence will be medications and, if serious enough, other interventions to help you breathe.

“COVID-19 will continue to impact our lives unless we as a community stand together. Our own immune system is the most powerful protection we have – we need to nurture it with healthy living so it is strong, and teach it to recognise the virus with vaccination so it can respond quickly. If the first time your immune system sees the virus is when you are exposed, then it takes two weeks to build antibodies and that is a long time for COVID-19 to do damage and this can lead to more serious illness. The small fragments of the spike protein in the vaccine are enough for your body to be ready, and they break down and leave your body without any other damage.”

“Restrictions have saved us again this time, but they are not a long-term solution. Getting vaccinated is preventative. There have been no hospitalisations caused by vaccination, despite nearly 60,000 doses being delivered. We had nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in the latest surge, but in the period under review (14 March – 1 May) this resulted in 92 hospitalisations and very sadly, 19 deaths.”

9 May 2021 Home Page, News