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.”

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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.