Access to care in relation to COVID-19

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Access to care in relation to COVID-19
Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, St. Lucia's chief medical officer

(PRESS RELEASE) – As of April 16, 2020, the World Health Organization reported a total of 1,991,562 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with 130,885 deaths. There are now 707,121 confirmed cases in the region of the Americas.

The affected region includes Dominican Republic (3,614), Haiti (41), Barbados (73), Jamaica (105), Cuba (814), Dominica (16), Grenada (14), Trinidad and Tobago (114), Guyana (48), Antigua and Barbuda (23), Bahamas (49), Saint Vincent and Grenadines (12), Guadeloupe (145), Martinique (158), Puerto Rico (974), Saint Barthelemy (6), Aruba (93), Saint Martin (35), US Virgin Islands (51), Cayman Islands (54).

As of April 17, 2020, Saint Lucia has on record a total of 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, eleven of whom have recovered. On Thursday, April 16, 2020, the test results for 25 samples for COVID-19 were received and they all were negative.

Today, Friday, April 17, 2020, Saint Lucia continues the partial shutdown and 10-hour curfew which spans the time period 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. This forms part of the national effort to protect public health as Saint Lucia is still at a very critical stage in the response to the COVID-19 threat. We need to all remain vigilant and be guided that the threat of COVID-19 to our nation’s health is real and still exists and to act accordingly.

As the Ministry of Health continues to respond to the global pandemic of COVID-19, the national health care system has been adapted to allow for a more robust response to COVID-19.

As such, new pathways to care have been created and the public is asked to utilize these as required to access care. The 311 hotline is available to provide general information on COVID-19 and access points for care and support. The 311 service is available seven days a week and function from 7 a.m. to midnight daily. A review of utilization of the services of this hotline indicates that 90% of calls are for guidance and linkage to available services for the management of signs and symptoms of the virus.

This has resulted in transfer of these clients to our tele-medicine services and to our community respiratory clinics. The tele-medicine services are delivered by physicians via mobile phones to allow for the delivery of telephone triaging of persons who are experiencing flu-like symptoms and require an initial level of assessment and direction to points of care. The numbers of these physicians have been made available via various media houses and official social media platforms including the social media sites of the Ministry of Health and the Government of Saint Lucia.

Persons with flu-like symptoms can access care at their closest respiratory clinics. The five existing respiratory clinics are at the Gros-Islet Polyclinic, La Clery Wellness Centres, Dennery Hospital, Vieux-Fort Wellness Centre and the Soufriere Hospital. The services at Dennery and Soufriere Hospitals and the La Clery and Vieux-Fort Wellness Centres are available daily Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Gros-Islet Polyclinic is available daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily including weekends.

Respiratory clinic services are available at the Victoria and St Jude Hospitals and this service are to be utilized by persons with respiratory issues and but requiring care outside the normal hours of operations at the clinics within the community. All respiratory cases coming into the hospital facilities will be screened and redirected for care services as required. All these services to support the management of the COVID-19 are provided at no cost to the user. The Ministry of Health encourages all persons who deem themselves to be in need of any of these services to access them in a timely manner to minimize any possibility of risks related to COVID-19.

We continue to advise the public to adhere to the standard recommendations to prevent the spread of infection.

These include:

– regular handwashing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer where soap and water are not available.
– cover mouth and nose with disposable tissues or clothing when coughing and sneezing.
– avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
– seek medical attention and share your travel history with your health care provider if you have symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness either during or after travel.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue providing regular updates on COVID-19. For more information please contact the Office of the Chief Medical Officer or the Epidemiology Unit, at 468-5309/468-5317 respectively.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. All I would wish for her to do is to verbally tell us without what the system can't erase how many actual cases of this virus are there? I know she was asked y can it not be removed as 15 n she said as long as the system has made a record of it ,it does not come out.

    Please all I want is to be able to see a normal amongst our people. They are afraid n trust that fear does many things. It's OK to isolate but force isolation is disastrous. Please help the public to really understand the nature of this situation. The way the cmo speaks it feels like there is no hope cause the words sound redundant.

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  2. My problem with this is that she does not say anything new. The same thing over n over. I know the system can not remove data like say we know longer have 15 cases but at least verbally say it. Like when st Vincent had one n they recovered..St Vincent said they had no cases why is it we still say 15? The pm said he is waiting on this lady to tell him b of course WHO which has caused more panic n fear amongst people to open up the country. As far as I can see if it's up to them we might as well stay closed for next year or until bill gates gets up his miracle vaccine which will do more harm than good.

    Please Ms Bellemar give us hope n stop making us feel like it will get worse. I ask for us all to boost our immune system n take these days home as away of finding our selves n learning to love our family. This too shall pass but life won't be the same as u know if.

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