(PRESS RELEASE) — Corporate St. Lucia alongside private individuals made donations amounting to over 1,500 reusable face masks specifically for the non-clinical staff of the Owen King European Union (OKEU) Hospital.
Executive Director at OKEU, Nancy Francis, said the hospital is extremely grateful for the donations made by The Tribe of Twel and Landmark Events, the Sewing Centre, Lorraine Francois and Althea Emmanuel.
“These individuals, notwithstanding what is happening, took time off to sit and put together these wonderful creations and donate it to the management and staff of the hospital and we are extremely grateful. Because it shows that while we are busy over at the hospital trying to save lives, our corporate sponsors are there with us and they have given us this generous donation to assist us.”
With the recent protocol from the Ministry of Health and Wellness requiring everyone to wear masks out in public, coupled with the limited supply of N95 masks, Medical Director at OKEU Hospital, Dr. Alisha Eugene-Ford, welcomed the donation of reusable masks for the non-clinical members of staff.
“The N95 masks that you hear persons are talking about and the surgical masks, we’re asking that we leave it for the frontline workers. The healthcare workers that are dealing with patients directly also persons that are very ill and persons like the firemen and the paramedics, we’re asking to leave these for them. The N95 masks and the surgical masks. The mask that I am wearing is another mask which is made at home or can be done by a seamstress, these are the masks we’re asking persons to wear if they’re not in the healthcare setting, if they’re going out, if they’re not dealing directly with patients.”
She said safety protocols for making and using the masks are being prepared and will soon be made available to the general public.
“Because we don’t want children below a particular age of two years; we do not want persons who are unconscious or persons who are unable to remove the mask, or persons with particular breathing issues to be wearing the mask. So, we want to be very careful on who should be wearing the mask and what areas should be covered when you’re actually making them and other important details of how to clean the mask, how to wash it, disinfect it, etc.“
Dr. Eugene-Ford also used the opportunity to appeal to certain sectors of the society to stop the stigmatization and discrimination of nurses and other staff of the hospital during this COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because COVID-19 is a health issue, you have the situation where as long as you are a healthcare worker, whether you’re a nurse, even though you’re not working at the respiratory hospital but you’re actually working at OKEUH or the Wellness Centre you may have persons not treating them nicely. Not allowing them to go on the bus sometimes, not wanting to hang around them or be around them or even associate themselves with them simply because they are working in a healthcare facility. We are pushing for physical distancing but we’re also asking persons that you not treat them badly, you show a degree of cooperation and tolerance with them because these are the same healthcare workers that are working together to ensure that we combat COVID-19.”
The medical director cautioned that though the reusable masks will cut down on one’s ability to infect someone else it however must be used in conjunction with other recommended protocols such as social distancing, the practice of proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette, and keeping hands away from one’s face.
The Tribe of Twel and Landmark Events set a target of 1,000 masks as its initial contribution to the national effort to halt the spread of COVID-19.