Bermuda Hospitals Board COVID-19 vaccination update

Friday 15 January 2021: BHB today provided details of vaccinations given over this week to staff and patients, from Monday 11 January to Friday 15 January 2021.

Dr Michael Ashton, Chief of Medicine & Infectious Diseases Specialist, gets vaccinated at the BHB clinic.

Over the five days, 744 COVID-19 vaccinations were given at BHB. Of these, 584 vaccinations were given to hospital workers in the BHB COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic, and 160 were given to long term care patients at KEMH and MWI (including group homes). The second doses for the individuals vaccinated this week will take place in 21 days, between 1 and 5 of February 2021. In addition, a second clinic for people to get their first shot will be run in a couple of weeks for people who may feel more comfortable getting vaccinated now they have seen the roll out start. Dates will be confirmed shortly.

Judy Richardson, Chief of Nursing and executive lead for the BHB vaccination roll out comments: “I’m so pleased that we have begun vaccination at BHB. Right now there is no better protection available so getting access to the vaccine is great news for people in healthcare and our community. We hope, as well, that this is just the start. Additional vaccination slots were added onto the Friday clinic to include some people who made a decision to book later in the week, but I feel encouraged as more staff are saying they feel more comfortable getting their first shot now they have seen one group go through. For this reason, we are planning a second clinic, likely in a couple of weeks.

Ms Richardson adds: “The clinic ran very smoothly and a big thank you has to go to all the departments who cleaned andcleared the space, and those who set up, supported and ran the clinic at KEMH, and all those who organised and delivered vaccinations across long term care units at KEMH, MWI and 26 group homes. We did not have any patient safety issues, and people only experienced the expected mild side effects for a few days, which is in line with international experience. We will continue to share information to educate and encourage more staff to get vaccinated. This is our best protection. It is safe, effectiveand will protect people in our hospitals and community.”

BHB has about 1,900 staff including casuals, part time staff and locums; about 1,500 of this number are full time staff. All staff were sent a vaccination intent form, in which they could elect to accept or decline the COVID-19 vaccination. 872 people returned the intent form. Everyone who wanted a vaccination at this time got a booking.

BHB has approximately 250 long term care patients. The long term care patients who were not vaccinated were due to families or the patients themselves declining the vaccination.

18 January 2021 Home Page, News

BHB pilots thermal detectors at its entrances

Friday 15 January 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) is the first company on island to use thermal detection monitors at its entrances. Three monitors have been in use since Christmas Eve in a pilot of the devices. Two Bermudian companies provided monitors from two different manufacturers for the project.

They are located at entrances to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s Acute Care Wing main lobby and Emergency Department. and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute’s main entrance.

The stand-alone machines have thermal sensors that detect your body temperature. You simply stand in front of the device and it advises you exactly what to do.

Specifically designed to address concerns with the spread COVID-19, the monitors will advise you to wear a mask if you don’t have one on, or if it does not cover your nose and mouth. If your temperature is too high, a recording announces that your access is denied and a red light flashes. If you are wearing a mask and you do not have a fever, the monitor will display your temperature on the screen and sound a message that giving you permission to enter.

“We’ve had a great response from staff and the public since we’ve introduced the thermal detection monitors,” says BHB Security and Fire Officer Earlene Wilkinson. “People appreciate the move away from the personal contact involved in manual temperature taking.

“Both brands are compatible with our access control doors and so we will have the ability to programme the entrance doors not to open automatically if you are not masked or if your temperature is too high.”

BHB has protocols in place to manage persons who are denied access. Emergency staff wearing protective equipment will attend to those who were trying to go to the Emergency Department. Those attempting to access other services will be advised to contact their physician.

The pilot will run until the end of January.

15 January 2021 Home Page, News

Why I will be getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Dr Michael Ashton

By Dr Michael Ashton, BHB Chief of Medicine and Infectious Diseases Specialist

Friday 8 January 2021: One of the ICU nurses approached me again as I was coming out of a patient room and asked when the vaccine for COVID-19 will become available in Bermuda. As before, we both keenly agreed that we will gratefully receive it when it finally arrives. We have only to look across the ICU to see the devastating potential of COVID-19 as a disease.

As an Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine specialist practicing in Bermuda for the last 10 years, I am regularly reminded how patients can succumb to disease. Even initial appearances of health and stability can sometimes betray the fragile balance in which we all exist. The COVID-19 pandemic rages on around the world, now with increasing efficiency, and we are far from herd immunity. Without an effective vaccine, there would be no end to the pandemic in sight; and our most vulnerable friends and family would have no hope of a normal life.

And yet after much determination and rigorous testing, there are now several approved vaccines (including mRNA vaccines) with extensive data published from multiple peer-reviewed and credible sources to establish safety and effectiveness. Remarkably, and unlike many other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness has been observed in most all populations – irrespective of age, race or health status.

Bermuda has struggled and made great sacrifices. We have only have to look to our neighbors to recognize the great risks that we have faced. The COVID-19 vaccines now represent a safe and responsible path back to normality. To start, there will be a limited supply of vaccine, so it makes sense for the vaccine to be first available to front-line and vulnerable people. No-one will ever be forced to take this vaccine, but having seen the consequences of this disease and having followed the vaccine development, I wholeheartedly encourage those eligible to receive the vaccine when it becomes available.

Ultimately, whether you take the vaccine is a personal decision – but with implications for those around you. As you weigh the risks and benefits, ensure that your sources of information are reliable, credible, and preferably from peer-reviewed publications. Consider each contingency and have a plan. For the vast majority of people, the vaccine benefits far outweigh the risks. But if you choose not to take the vaccine, are you prepared to continue to be at risk for contracting COVID-19? What will you do instead to protect yourself and those around you? And if you were to get sick, who will take care of you?

8 January 2021 Home Page, News

New year’s baby makes a late appearance

Wednesday 6 January 2021: The first baby of 2021 has finally arrived at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) to parents Danielle Pacheco and Daniel Hayward.

Staff of the Maternity Unit welcomed the little girl at 1:40pm yesterday, 5 January 2021. Kalysta Rayne Hayward weighed in at 6lb 2oz.

Last year’s first baby arrived promptly on New Year’s Day 2020 at 7:58am.

 

6 January 2021 Home Page, News

Update on BHB Long Term Care COVID-19 Cases

Friday 8 January 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board today is providing an update on the COVID-19 cases on a long term care unit.

Mike Richmond, CEO & President, comments: “Following the completion of testing all staff and patients on the long term care unit, there was one more patient and one staff member who tested positive for COVID-19, this is in addition to the two patients who tested positive last week. Contact tracing has been completed and investigations continue into the likely cause of the outbreak. All staff and patients on the unit will be tested again before isolation precautions are lifted. We are also continuing with ongoing surveillance testing, which is a regular programme of testing that is being carried out in long term care areas for staff and patients.

“My thoughts remain with those who are unwell, and also for the BHB staff who continue to ensure care continues and patients are kept safe. A number of families used phone and video to talk to their loved ones in the long term care areas, as there is currently no visiting in any of these areas. We did our best to make the units festive and patients had a Christmas dinner prepared, but we recognise that families and our patients would have missed being able to interact and be close with each other.

“Outside of the long term care areas, we are still seeing regular hospitalisations. I would like to appreciate all our staff who have worked every day through the pandemic to keep care services running for all Bermuda. They have ensured we have been able to respond, and that we remain prepared should numbers of people needing care for COVID-19 continue to rise.”

29 December 2020 News

BHB Confirms Two Patient Cases in Long Term Care Area

Thursday 24 December 2020: BHB is today confirming an evolving issue in one of its long term care areas, where two patients have tested positive for COVID-19. All staff and patients are being tested, and testing will be completed today. BHB stopped visiting for all long term care patients at MWI and KEMH last week, before these positive cases were confirmed. One patient has symptoms and the other is asymptomatic.

CEO & President, Dr Mike Richmond, says: “We are doing all we can to support our patients and staff, and we are following strict processes for an outbreak in partnership with the Ministry of Health to investigate and contact trace anyone who may have had an exposure. Testing of all staff and patients on the unit is well underway, and we expect everyone will have been tested by end of today. It is too early to know how the outbreak started, but the work is underway to fully understand and contain it. We had started regular surveillance testing of our long term areas – meaning a programme of testing rather than testing due to a suspected infection – something we were in the process of rolling out to the entire organisation. This case, however, was picked up due to a symptomatic patient.

“Our focus remains on caring for the patients and also for our staff as we wait for the findings of the investigation and contact tracing process. We have personal protective equipment requirements and infection control protocols in place for routine patient interactions and in the day to day work environments. However, the standards enforced when a unit goes on isolation brings further levels of protection within the unit and its relationship with the rest of the hospital to maximise the safety of all. We know the precautions work, but this means patients have even greater restrictions. We will do all we can to support them, and encourage remote interactions with their loved ones over the holiday season.”

24 December 2020 News

Call for new blood donors to help over the holidays

Wednesday 23 December 2020: The Bermuda Blood Donor Centre team is asking people to give the gift of life this Christmas and consider becoming a blood or apheresis donor, even if they have not donated before. As an added Christmas bonus, people donating blood in December get a free gift of chocolate, donated to the Blood Donor Centre by BGA Wholesale Distributor.

Christmas is usually a busy social time for people, impacting the number of available donors. The pandemic, however, has brought new challenges, with people in quarantine or isolation. A number of donors have been unable to donate as usual due to exposures, travel or returning family members from overseas that require them to quarantine.

Lucy Correia, Nurse Phlebotomist, comments: “Our donors have been phenomenal throughout the pandemic, continuing to donate regularly. However, with positive cases going up every day, more and more people are being impacted either through a positive test or a precautionary quarantine. Once someone is in quarantine, they cannot donate for at least 14 days. This is reducing our number of available donors, and cancellations are frequently at short notice as new positive cases come to light.

Ms Correia adds: “We hope people closely follow government guidance on masking and avoiding the three C’s of crowded places, close-contact settings and confined and enclosed spaces. It can save lives, prevent quarantines and for us this means people can safely donate. To help us through the season safely we are asking anyone who may not have donated before to seriously consider helping out this season. All our blood is from voluntary local donations – we rely on this to save lives and help treat people with conditions such as cancer and sickle cell anaemia. Please help us save lives this Christmas and New year and donate blood.”

To make an appointment, call 236-5067 or email blood.donor@bhb.bm. Click here to visit the Bermuda Blood Donor Page and read details about donor eligibility.

23 December 2020 Home Page, News

Visiting Restrictions at BHB from Wednesday 23 December 2020

Tuesday 22 December 2020: Bermuda Hospitals Board today (BHB) today announces increased restrictions for visitors for inpatients and long term care residents at KEMH and MWI.

Long term care residents and isolation patients on any ward will no longer receive visitors, while acute and critical care patients will be able to have one designated person visit for one hour. Gosling (Children’s) ward 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.

Changes will come into effect on Wednesday 23 December at noon.

CEO & President, Michael Richmond comments: “We, like everyone in Bermuda, have watched the growing number of positive cases in the community with dismay. As the community numbers have risen we have not been surprised that the number of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 has started to go up. We feel we must act now to restrict visitation. Although it hurts to do this just before Christmas, our concern is that the risks are only going to go up. People in the community may be more social through the holidays and our first instinct must be to protect those in our care from this increased transmission risk. Reducing the numbers of people in the hospital to the most essential is our best way of reducing the risk. We may have to consider a complete cessation of visiting if the figures continue to deteriorate in the coming days and weeks, but we will only do this if there is no other choice.

“We promise to do all we can to support remote visits using mobile devices and we remain sensitive to exceptional circumstances, such as when a patient is near death. We hope the community understands and works with us to do wall we can to support patients and residents through this difficult time so that they can enjoy future Christmas holidays together.”

Changes to visiting by area:

• Acute care inpatient units and Intensive Care Unit (KEMH):
(Ace Barber, Ascendant Partner Re, Catlin Lindo, Curtis, Agape and ICU)
One designated support person may visit once a day for one hour between noon and 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 the results. All patients admitted are tested for COVID-19 and are on isolation until they receive a negative result).
No visitors, other than in truly exceptional circumstances (such as end of life). Visitors must be approved by the unit manager before visiting.

• Long term care residents (MWI and KEMH)
(KEMH: Cooper, Gordon and Perry Units; MWI: Devon Lodge, Reid Ward and all group homes)
No visitation allowed, other than in truly 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 in full personal protective equipment.

• Maternity (no change)
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. Click here for full Maternity Guidelines.

22 December 2020 News

Dr Wesley Miller appointed as BHB chief of staff

Thursday 17 December 2020: Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) today announces that Dr Wesley Miller has been appointed as Chief of Staff, effective Monday 4 January 2021. He takes over from Dr Michael Richmond, who was appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & President in August this year. Dr Miller is currently BHB’s Chief of Surgery. The Chief of Staff position reports to the CEO, and is accountable to the Board and Minister of Health.

As Chief of Staff, Dr Miller will lead BHB’s team of medical and support personnel. The position is the most senior medical role at BHB and is responsible for the supervision of medical and dental care given to patients and residents in BHB facilities. Dr Miller’s role ensures patient safety, sound clinical governance and building positive relations with the physician community.

Chairman of the Board William Madeiros comments: “We would like to congratulate Dr Miller on his appointment to the Chief of Staff position. Dr Miller is a respected senior medical leader at BHB and his medical experience and skills, and strong relationships with local physicians, will be critical as we navigate through these challenging times.”

CEO Dr Michael Richmond comments: “I’m very pleased to welcome Dr Miller into this new senior role. I’ve had the benefit of working with Dr Miller since 2017 and value his strengths and standing as a physician leader. He is the right person for the job as we manage our hospitals through unprecedented times, due to the global pandemic, and responding to the economic and health impact on our community.”

Dr Wesley Miller had been Chief of Surgery at BHB since 2007. Before arriving in Bermuda, he worked in Jamaica and the United Kingdom. In 1989, he was awarded Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland. He went on to serve as a registrar in Portsmouth, a senior registrar in Northern Ireland, and an ear, nose and throat surgeon in Rotherham, Yorkshire. In 1996, he was recruited to work as an otolaryngologist in Bermuda. After joining BHB, Dr Miller offered a wide range of services including paediatric and adult ENT procedures, sleep studies, allergy testing and management, and the evaluation and management of chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD) and asthma.

Dr Miller comments: “I am looking forward to taking on the Chief of Staff role and working with the physician community inside and outside the hospitals. We are in difficult times, but my focus will remain on ensuring safe, quality services that can adapt to the pandemic restrictions and economic challenges we currently face.”

The Chief of Staff appointment and compensation are approved by the Board and Minister of Health. Compensation for this position is $475,000 per year.

17 December 2020 Home Page, News

Lamb Foggo UCC Winter Weekday Hours

Tuesday 15 December 2020: As part of its winter planning, Bermuda Hospitals Board today announced that it will be reducing the weekday hours of the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre (UCC) for the winter months, as it did last year.

From Monday 21 December 2020, the UCC will open from 4pm to 8pm every weekday and public holiday and will not offer a weekday x-ray service. Previously opening at noon, the later 4pm UCC start reduces daytime hours, but keeps the service open at its busiest time in the evening. Weekend hours will stay the same from 9am to 9pm, with an x-ray service. People can call the UCC if they need to check the hours at 298-7700.

BHB anticipates that the winter hours will be in place until Sunday 31 January 2021. Below is a video overview of the winter hours.

 

Dr Chikezie Dean Okereke, Chief of Emergency, comments: “Reduced UCC hours were first introduced last year following a rather difficult 2018 – 2019 winter. This reduction in UCC hours allowed us focus important resources on the Emergency Department, which always has an increase in seriously unwell people in winter. It worked very well and we saw a reduction in the number of people who left without being seen in the ED by 65% – something that happens when wait times are too long. Additionally, there was a 44% improvement in average time from arrival to discharge for all patients (2.8 hours verses 4.1 hours) and the boarding time for people admitted to hospital from the Emergency Department improved by 34% (from 13.1 hours to 9.5 hours), this despite an increase in total admissions (4% up, or 979 compared to 935 in 2018 – 2019). We are keen to improve this further.”

“This year obviously has added challenges as we are in a pandemic and we are currently experiencing a steep rise in positive cases. We may have to make further changes if these numbers continue to rise and our Emergency Department comes under greater pressure.

“We are however doing all we can to maintain the urgent care service at Southside. We know people in the East End appreciate having the service available, and it is a place anyone on the island with minor injuries and illnesses can attend and will often be seen more quickly than in the ED.

“I would stress that people with COVID-19 symptoms should not turn up in person for care at any medical facility unless they have called in advance, and I would add that the UCC Is not the right place to call. The UCC does not offer COVID-19 testing, and more importantly for people who feel very unwell, the UCC, unlike the ED and KEMH, does not have inpatient acute or critical care services.

“People who are concerned they have COVID-19 can utilise the COVID-19 patient symptoms self-assessment checklist which is available at bermudahospitals.bm and the Government website. I would urge them to contact the Government’s COVID-19 hotline (444-2498) or primary care physician if they need advice and, failing this, call the Emergency Department at 239-2009 so, if needed, they can be instructed how to access care services safely.”

14 December 2020 Home Page, News