BHB visitor restrictions reintroduced due to delta surge

Tuesday 7 September 2021: Due to the surge in COVID-19 community numbers and increase in inpatient numbers, Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) is ceasing visitation of inpatients and long term care residents at KEMH and MWI from Wednesday 8 September, and cancelling elective surgeries from today. Maternity, Gosling (children’s) Unit and intensive care patients will be allowed limited visitation by designated individuals.

Dr Michael Richmond, Chief Executive Officer & President, said: “We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of patients and families as we respond to yet another surge. The pressures these surges bring to staff at the hospitals is immense. We are all working extremely hard to manage our bed capacity and focus resources where they are needed so we are able to care for all who need it, as medical emergencies still happen on top of the increase in COVID-19 cases. It not only adds to the clinical pressures felt by individuals and services, but brings continued financial pressures to BHB and the healthcare system, and we were under pressure even before the pandemic. BHB has worked extremely hard over the last few years to make savings, and we have achieved $11 million in fiscal year 2019/20, $30 million in 2020/21 and we are working to achieve $15 million more through efficiency programmes, contract reviews and management of assets. The financial costs of responding to the pandemic, on top of international increases of medicines and supplies, and the pressure to keep pace with international standards in healthcare to offer the people in Bermuda are immense.

“We know our colleagues in the Ministry of Health are similarly challenged. We are incredibly grateful for the donations from businesses and individuals that have supported the purchasing of supplies and the vaccine clinic, but the costs have exceeded these kind and generous donations. We are working closely with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health to ensure we can continue to deliver the services needed safely and at a high quality.”

Chief of Staff Dr Wesley Miller commented: “We do not take the return to these restrictions lightly, but are very concerned by the sudden increase in delta variant COVID-19 infections and hospital admissions. Three out of every four local infections are in unvaccinated individuals and, unfortunately, these people are more at risk of serious illness and hospitalisations. BHB is now experiencing an increase in emergency visits and admissions. Higher community transmissions also increases the risks of an individual visiting a loved one and not knowing they are infected. We have once more prepared our overflow ICU in the surgical area so that we can care for all those who need it. These actions divert resources and space, which impacts our other services. We apologise for the impact on patients and families as we manage this surge and thank everyone for their cooperation and understanding.”

Chief of Nursing Judy Richardson commented: “We have seen numbers surge in the community and this is now being seen in our hospitals too. We have been through surges before and know that timely action maximises the safety of all people in BHB units and group homes. We feel for all the people who will see less of their families and loved ones, but our first step is to strengthen the protections that help protect them. We need everyone to play their part in keeping our most vulnerable people safe, so thank the community in advance for their understanding and partnership in following all guidelines and precautions.”

Summary of current restrictions:

Anyone visiting or attending BHB facilities as an outpatient must first go through a temperature and mask check. They must use the available hand sanitisers, wear a mask and maintain physical distancing at all times, including in patient rooms.

Long term care residents, acute care unit and isolation patients on any ward will no longer receive visitors.

Gosling (children’s) Unit will allow limited visits by parents only, and Maternity visiting will stay the same as before, with one designated support person able to attend the birth and visit once a day if the mother stays longer than 24 hours.

The Emergency Department and Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre will return to allowing patients only to attend. A companion will only be allowed if the patient is a minor (under 18), a vulnerable adult who needs a carer, or is combative. Any person experiencing symptoms that could be COVID-19 are reminded to call first and not just turn up, as it puts other vulnerable patients waiting at risk.

Free wifi is available at BHB for patients and residents, so they can stay in touch by phone or video.

Inpatient visitation guidelines from Wednesday 8 September by area:

• Acute Care Wing inpatient units (KEMH)
(Ace Barber, Ascendant Partner Re, and Catlin Lindo)
No visitation, other than in exceptional circumstances (such as end of life).

• Intensive Care Unit
One designated individual between noon-2pm and 4-6pm.

• Gosling Ward
Only parents can visit.

• Isolation patients on any ward (MWI and KEMH) (Isolation patients either have a confirmed infectious disease, such as COVID-19, or are waiting for test results. All patients admitted are tested for COVID-19 and are on isolation until they receive a negative results)
No visitors, other than in truly exceptional circumstances (such as end of life). Individuals must be approved by the unit manager before visiting.

• Long term care residents (MWI and KEMH) and Curtis Ward
(KEMH: Cooper, Gordon, Curtis and Perry Units; MWI: Devon Lodge, Reid Ward and all group homes)
No visitation allowed, other than in exceptional circumstances (such as end of life)

• Agape House
No visitors for long stay patients at Agape House. Patients in their last phase of dying will be allowed two visitors in the room at a time who will be required to wear full personal protective equipment.

• Maternity
One designated support person can attend the birth and up to eight hours afterwards. If mom stays on the ward longer than 24 hours, the support person can visit for up to four hours once a day. Doulas will be permitted for labour and delivery only.

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Notes to Editors
The Bermuda Hospitals Board is a quango (quasi autonomous non-governmental organisation) established under the Bermuda Hospitals Board Act, 1970. It has a Bermuda Government-approved Board and a Chief Executive Officer, responsible for King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. At the heart of both organisations is high-quality care to all patients.

With approximately 1,700 employees, the Bermuda Hospitals Board is Bermuda's second largest employer. King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute are the only healthcare organisations in Bermuda accredited by Accreditation Canada, an independent organisation whose role is to help hospitals examine and improve the quality of care and service they provide to their clients. In addition to providing an extensive list of services for the community, the Bermuda Hospitals Board is part of a referral network that includes some of the world's leading specialist hospitals.

For more information, please visit www.bermudahospitals.bm or contact the Bermuda Hospitals Board Public Relations Department at publicrelations@bhb.bm.