Tobago working to increase ICU capacity

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Victor Wheeler –

Tobago is working actively to increase its Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, according to Medical Chief of Staff Dr Victor Wheeler.

At a news conference hosted by the THA Division Health, Wellness and Family Development on Thursday, Wheeler said there are currently five ICU beds for treating covid19 patients at the Scarborough hospital, and a further three isolation areas there to accommodate spillover cases.

He said: “We have adequate beds at the Fort (Tobago Rehabilitation and Empowerment Centre, Fort King George) to deal with persons who have covid19 – the only area where we are close to maximising is at the covid19 ICU where we have five patients filling up the five beds. We have an additional person in one of the three (isolation) spaces for covid19 ICU patients, but when we finish the facility up at the Fort…”

In September, the division said it will be opening an ICU facility at the Fort King George facility.

Wheeler said when the facility is completed there would be 11 ICU beds for covid19 patients on the island.

He said there are 56 beds for covid19 patients at the Fort, while the Scarborough hospital has beds for 110 regular patients.

However, he said this could change at any moment.

“If persons don’t get vaccinated and get covid19, we may find that all will be filled and that would exceed our capacity, but right now we do have adequate capacity.”

Health Secretary Tracy Davidson-Celestine said she visited the facility on Monday, noting it is approximately 70 to 75 per cent completed. She is anticipating that by the end of the month there would be an “almost fully-functional” ICU unit.

“That would relieve the pressure at the Scarborough General Hospital in terms of treating with those persons who would need high-dependency care. At that facility, we would also have our own oxygen compressors on the island, and I think by that time of the month, which is November, we should have at least 28 ventilators, and by the end of the month we would be fully self-sufficient where oxygen is concerned,” she said.

Additionally, she said the Tobago Regional Health Authority is training ICU nurses.

“I think based on the report that I’ve seen from the board and from the CEO, we should have about six or so ICU nurses who would be in circulation within the not-so-distant future. And then, of course, we have our collaboration with Central Government and the minister, and the ministry of health, and they would assist us as we go along in terms of ensuring that we’re able to locate the human resources that are needed to man some of these specialists medical servicing.

“So, the point is, we’re working behind the scenes; the team is working to ensure that we can build those robust systems going forward.”