Abdool-Richards: Over 900 patients being treated for covid19

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards.

APPROXIMATELY 918 people are being treated for covid19. This number includes 749 patients in the parallel health care system, established to deal with covid19, and 169 in the accident and emergency (A&E) departments in the regional health authorities (RHAs).

Many of them are unvaccinated and enter the system when they are severely ill.

Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards made these statements during the virtual health news conference on Wednesday.

“This is the actual highest number of patients in the parallel health care system,” Abdool-Richards said of the figure of 749.

The previous highest number, 726, was reached between November 27 and 28.

“We have noticed over the last two to three weeks that the number of net admissions in the parallel health care system continues to increase. We look at net admissions because it indicates the additional strain on hospitals in the parallel health care system,” she explained.

Net admission is the result of the total new admissions of patients subtracted from the total number of patients discharged.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 543 people in the hospitals in the parallel health care system. There are 206 patients in the system’s step-down facilities.

She said, “This is the highest number of patients in the parallel health care system since October 19, 2021, when we started noticing that upward trend.”

Reiterating there is covid19 delta variant community spread, she added, “So we have noticed that persons being admitted into hospital are entering in a more clinically severe medical condition, and so they spend longer in hospital.”

All of this continues to place an increasing strain on the system.

“The net number of admissions over the last five days into the parallel health care system has been 112, versus 153 for the seven days previously.”

Abdool-Richards said this suggested a trend of consistent increase in hospital admissions over the previous figure of 153 by the end of this reporting week.

The parallel health care system now comprises 16 facilities spread between Trinidad and Tobago. Abdool-Richards said the 16th and most recent facility is a 26-bed step-down quarantine facility opened in Lowlands, Tobago on December 14. There are currently 14 patients there.

In preparation for the arrival of the delta variant, she continued, capacity was increased in the A&E departments in the RHAs to cope with increasing demands for covid19 patient care.

She said, “Our A&Es continue to be inundated with a large number of critically and severely ill patients on a daily basis. As of 7 am this morning, there were 169 persons across four A&E departments in Trinidad receiving medical care.”

Out of this number, 32 are intensive care unit (ICU)-level patients.

Many of these patients are arriving at the A&E department too late. and so their clinical status is deemed unstable, Abdool-Richards said, so in keeping with the ministry’s covid19 protocols, they are treated on site at the A&Es. Once these patients are deemed clinically stable, they are transferred to a hospital in the parallel health care system.

With 100 per cent of ICU-level patients in the parallel health care system and 87 per cent in the A&E departments not being fully vaccinated, Abdool-Richards said, “This underscores the importance of vaccination as a preventative mechanism to being hospitalised with covid19.”

Referring to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh’s recent statement about increasing ICU capacity in the parallel health care system, Abdool-Richards said this was done on a phased basis, based on demand.

But she warned, “Of course, I would like to remind everyone that a bed is not a bed, and human resources continues to be the limiting factor, for operationalising beds.”

There are currently 67 operational ICU beds in Trinidad and nine in Tobago. This does not include the A&E departments in the RHAs, where there are an additional 31 beds.

“In Trinidad, 58 out of the 67 beds are filled. In Tobago, six out of nine (are filled).

She added, “Of the 58 ICU patients in Trinidad, 50 are not fully vaccinated. We have noticed here that 87 per cent of all persons in ICU in TT are not fully vaccinated.”

Abdool-Richards concluded that as of Wednesday, over 900 covid19-positive patients who are critically and severely ill are being cared for in the traditional A&E departments as well as in the parallel health care system.