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BHB moves to Disaster Alert Level 3

Friday 22 October 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board today confirmed it has reduced its alert level from 4 to 3, in response to the reduction in COVID-19 patients needing critical, emergency and acute care services. This is a cautionary move, as there are still people in hospital with COVID-19, and one overflow ICU is still open. Visiting restrictions will remain in place for this alert level, as will the suspension in routine elective surgeries, but preparations are underway for a gradual relaxation if numbers continue to decline.

BHB CEO Dr Michael Richmond comments: “This has been a very difficult period for our staff. Much was asked, much was given and we have a deep appreciation for their efforts. We are all hoping for a period to gradually recuperate. I would, on behalf of all our staff, want to thank the many donors who sponsored meals for our staff. Not only did you help people under immense pressure, but you gave us a feeling of connection with our community, a sense of being supported, that helped us through an extremely challenging time. Thank you.

“While I know people want to visit their loved ones as soon as possible, or have their planned routine surgeries, we are moving cautiously at this alert level. Our staff are recovering, especially those who worked directly or in support of acute, emergency and critical care areas. We also have an overflow ICU open, which is usually a post-anaesthetic care unit for surgery. It feels very much like the period immediately after a major storm at BHB – there is some restoration needed, and we need to be sure that the worst is past before we return to more normal functions.

“Thank you again for your support and understanding.”

22 October 2021 Home Page, News

Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre resumes normal hours

Monday 18 October 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board announced today a resumption of normal operating hours at the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre (UCC). Effective Tuesday 19 October hours will return to 2pm-10pm on weekdays. Weekend hours did not change and remain 9am-9pm. . Last patient registration will be at 9:45pm during the weekdays and 8:45pm Saturday and Sunday.

X-ray service at the UCC will resume on Monday 18 October and continue as it did previously – on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays during opening hours.

“We urge those with minor injuries and illnesses that are not COVID-19 related to attend the UCC,” said Dr Chikezie Dean Okereke, Chief of Emergency. “The UCC should not be used to replace the care of your GP. Where possible, individuals should seek care first from their GP. In instances where this is not possible, patients should follow up with their GP after their UCC visit.”

18 October 2021 Home Page, News

Mental Health Clinic piloted at Hamilton Health Centre

Monday 18 October 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) in collaboration with the Department of Health is piloting a mental health clinic in Hamilton.

Located in the Department of Health’s Hamilton Health Centre on Victoria Street, the Mental Health Clinic started on Friday 8 October. The weekly service will continue on Fridays from 9am-noon.

BHB Acting Chief of Psychiatry, Dr Anna Neilson-Williams stated: “We are committed to bringing mental health services closer to those who need it and in settings where clients will feel more relaxed. In this regard, the Hamilton Health Centre is an ideal venue for the Mental Health Clinic. We are committed to protecting and promoting good mental health and well-being for all our patients.”

Currently BHB provides 2 nurses for the service, which includes mental health screenings, assessments, consultations and treatment.  As the pilot progresses, it is anticipated that a psychiatrist and psychiatric resident physician will join in providing mental health support.

Dr Neilson-Williams said: “Mental health support will be available to anyone who benefits from existing public health services at the Hamilton Health Centre including walk-ins and new referrals. In addition, existing Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI) clients can also be scheduled for appointments.  Persons can be referred or self-present to the mental health clinic where they will be triaged.”

BHB Deputy CEO R Scott Pearman said: “This service aligns with BHB’s strategic plan to integrate healthcare services and the Ministry of Health’s Health Integration Strategy by providing mental health services in established healthcare settings.

“Our aim is to integrate with community-based providers to deliver mental health care and support in non-institutional settings. Embedding the Mental Health Clinic in the Hamilton Health Centre provides its clients better access to these services in a confidential and neutral setting.”

Earlier this year BHB piloted a mental health clinic in a general practitioner practice as well as at the Integrated Health Clinic at the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre.

“We are pleased to partner with BHB in this pilot programme,” said Department of Health Director, David Kendell.

“Our staff will also benefit from regular workshops and training in mental health from the MWI professionals. This is an important aspect of the agreement as we work to provide a holistic approach to public health services for the entire community.”

For more information on the Mental Health Clinic at the Hamilton Health Centre on Victoria Street call 239-2261. The crisis hotline for all mental health services is 239-1111.

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18 October 2021 Home Page, News

BHB Public Service Advisory: Bermuda Hospitals Board in-person payment facility in Hamilton is closed

Monday 11 October 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board is advising the public that it has closed its public reception desk in its Hamilton office to in-person activities until further notice.

The Hamilton office located in Craig Appin House on Wesley Street has been convenient for many people to pay their bills.

“Due to the high risk of coronavirus infection we have closed in-person activities at this location,” said BHB Chief Financial Officer Bill Shields. “Bill payments can now be made by calling 239-2955 or 239-2954 Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.”

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11 October 2021 Home Page, News

Bermuda Post Office workers mark World Post Day with meals for 50 BHB staff

Friday 8 October 2021: World Post Day is this Saturday and Bermuda Post Office staff traditionally celebrate the day with a team building activity. This year the staff decided to pool funds and provide meals for hospital workers who have been uniquely stressed during the pandemic.

“Our team is not able to gather to celebrate this year, “said Postmaster General Sam Brangman Jr. “We still wanted to mark the day and felt it appropriate to do so by donating meals for those who work at the hospital, which has been inundated with COVID-19 patients in recent weeks.

“We know that the Hospitals Auxiliary of Bermuda (HAB) work tirelessly to help the hospital, and felt that we would provide these meals through a donation to their Pink Café,” he continued. “Their General Manager Nancy Oughton was so helpful and quickly organised the whole thing. The HAB has provided 50 $10 vouchers, which we have presented to Bermuda Hospitals Board management.”

“On behalf of the management and staff of Bermuda Hospitals Board, I thank our postal workers for deciding to mark World Post Day with this thoughtful donation,” said BHB Deputy CEO R Scott Pearman. “Our staff are grateful for your donation and those of many others in our community. We are pleased that you thought to provide this through the HAB with whom we have a very close relationship – it is akin to two donations by offering this through them. Thank you.”

“It’s our mission to provide funding for the vital needs of our hospital,” said HAB General Manager Nancy Oughton. “We thank the Bermuda Post Office staff for providing for hospital staff through our Pink Café.”

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Pictured from left: Dean Hayward, Bermuda Post Office Delivery Post Person; Nancy Oughton, General Manager Hospitals Auxiliary of Bermuda; Sam Brangman Jr., Postmaster General and R Scott Pearman, Bermuda Hospitals Board Deputy CEO.

8 October 2021 Home Page, News

Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre temporarily reduces weekday open hours (weekend hours remain the same)

Sunday 3 October 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board today announced that there will be a temporary change of weekday Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre (UCC) hours so that staffing resources can be directed to the Emergency Department. From Monday 4 October 2021, hours will be from 5pm to 10pm weekdays, Monday to Friday. Weekend hours will remain the same from 9am to 9pm. The need for the reduced weekday hours will be reassessed in two weeks (Sunday 17 October).

Dr Chikezie Dean Okereke, Chief of Emergency, comments: “We do all we can to meet the demand in our Emergency Department and UCC, but at times when our staffing is stretched, we have to focus on the Emergency Department first as this is where the most unwell patients who need the most urgent attention are. We are keeping the UCC open every evening in the week even though the hours are reduced, and weekend hours will remain the same. We strongly recommend that people who have non-COVID illnesses or injuries that are minor, but cannot wait for a GP appointment, still make use of the service. There will not be an x-ray service at the UCC at this this time. It is also important to remind people that for most minor and on-going chronic complaints, you can contact your GP first. As soon as we are able we will return to our usual operating hours for the UCC, and will provide an update in two weeks.”

3 October 2021 Home Page, News

Free virtual panel to support and inspire recovery from substance abuse

Wednesday 29 September 2021: BHB today announces a free virtual panel being offered to the community as part of Recovery Month by the Turning Point Substance Abuse Programme. The theme is ‘Recovery is for everyone: every person, every family, every community’, and the discussion will be on Thursday 30 September from 1pm to 2pm.

The goal is to share wisdom, experiences and insight to inspire and encourage people in Bermuda who have loved ones or are themselves on the journey of recovery.

Hosted by Dayla Burges, Addiction Counsellor at Turning Point, the panel members are: Juanae Crockwell, holistic counsellor of ‘A Little Girl Grows Up’; Shervin Hollis, recovery advocate; Gordon Johnson, community recovery advocate; and Michaela Smith, certified fitness instructor of Hope Fitness Bermuda.

Shirley Place, clinical director of substance abuse at MWI, comments: “We want to offer to the community an opportunity to hear from people who can help support and inspire anyone with an interest in substance abuse recovery. We all have a part to play, whether we have an addiction, or it is a loved one or friend. Recovery needs community support and understanding. Having an open panel allows us all to learn, be encouraged and have their questions about substance abuse recover answered.”

People can attend via zoom meeting ID 894 045 3622 at 1pm on Thursday 30 September, or go to the BHB Facebook page for a live stream. There will be set questions for the panel at the start, and a segment for attendees to ask questions too.

29 September 2021 Home Page, News

BHB morgue service impacted by the pandemic

Tuesday 28 September 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) today highlighted the need for people to work together when someone dies to help manage the large numbers of deceased, following a rise in deaths related directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer R Scott Pearman comments: “The increase in deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic is a tragic situation for many families, first and foremost, and we feel deeply for the grief and pain so many are feeling in our community right now. The high numbers are also putting pressure on the individuals and organisations who would normally support the process from death to burial or cremation, and this includes BHB.

“Our concern is having enough space for all the deceased given the high numbers of deaths we are experiencing. We have already exceeded our regular morgue capacity and are using refrigerated overflow containers. BHB’s respectful goal is to maintain the dignity and safety of the deceased.  For us to meet this goal, however, we need help as some individuals are left with KEMH longer than necessary and this is increasing the number of people we need to have space for.

“Reducing the number of deceased individuals held by BHB will be greatly helped by families working with their chosen funeral director so their loved ones can be picked up from KEMH and be buried or cremated with as little delay as possible. Families are going through so much when someone dies and they may not always know what has to take place for their loved one to be released from KEMH. We have therefore spoken to Government and funeral directors, and developed an information sheet about the process to help families as they work through all the steps that have to take place, and help them prepare for the financial implications and decisions that need to be made.”

BHB Factsheet – When Your Loved One Dies

28 September 2021 Home Page, News

Support for mentally ill now stationed in Magistrates’ Court and Hamilton Police Station

Tuesday 21 September 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) is pleased to announce a joint initiative between its Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI), the Magistrates’ Court, the Department of Court Services and Bermuda Police Service. The collaboration resulted in the pilot of a new post: Liaison and Diversion Officer (LDO).  On 8 February, an MWI psychiatric nurse took station at the Magistrates’ Courts and at Hamilton Police Station in the new role.

Retired MWI psychiatric nurse Geraldine Smith agreed to serve in the post during the pilot.

Preston Swan, Acting Chief Operating Officer, said creation of the post is part of MWI’s efforts to be more responsive to community needs and meet people in the settings where they need assistance.

“The LDO provides psychiatric support to persons with mental health challenges,” he said. “The LDO also advises authorities where a diversion from the justice system for mental health treatment is appropriate.”

Since the start of the project, the LDO has had 336 encounters with individuals seeking support, 38% (129) were persons known to MWI and 23% (77) were current clients of MWI.  Not everyone took advantage of the service. Six percent (21) declined additional mental health support from MWI or the LDO.

“Attending court and interacting with police can pose unique challenges for some people with mental illness,” Mr. Swan added. “There are specific methods that can be used to effectively communicate with such persons, but it is complex as the methods vary based on the person’s particular challenge or diagnosis. Psychiatric professionals are best qualified to recognise this and interact appropriately.

“We are pleased to provide this service in the Magistrates’ Court and at the police station.”

Senior Magistrate Juan Wolffe said:  “Through the creation of the Drug Treatment Court, the Mental Health Treatment Court, and the DUI Court the Magistrates’ Courts has for some time been implementing therapeutic forms of jurisprudence.  In doing so individuals who have come before the Magistrates’ Court have been directed to helping agencies in order to address the root causes of their behaviour rather than being incarcerated.  The services of the LDO has taken these objectives a monumental step further by providing immediate and direct assistance and intervention to individuals who appear in the Magistrates’ Court with mental or physical challenges.  Since the project began the assigned LDO has been worth her weight in gold by triaging the complex and sensitive issues of individuals and thereby providing Magistrates with crucial information and recommendations which ultimately assists Magistrates in arriving at a resolution which is beneficial to all parties involved in the proceedings.”

“As Police, we interact directly with all sectors of our community,” said Chief Police Inspector Alexander Rollin. “As such we must be flexible in our approach to meet their diverse needs. It has become increasingly challenging for us to manage situations involving some of those who have mental illness.”

Chief Inspector Rollin added: “We have already experienced the benefits of having the Liaison and Diversion Officer and look forward to the continued partnership.”

21 September 2021 Home Page, News

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.

7 September 2021 Home Page, News