Saturday 22 February, 2020

St Joseph’s Hospital designated as coronavirus quarantine facility

The main entrance to St Joseph's Hospital in Vineyard Town, St Andrew.

The main entrance to St Joseph's Hospital in Vineyard Town, St Andrew.

St Joseph’s Hospital in Vineyard Town, St Andrew is being converted into a quarantine facility for Jamaicans who are returning from China and have not started showing symptoms of the deadly coronavirus.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dunstan Bryan, made the announcement on Saturday.

Bryan said there is no need for the Jamaican public to panic, as a section of the facility will be used specifically for quarantine purposes as required by the travel ban restrictions that the authorities recently placed on China.

“What we are doing across different locations in the island is to prepare different facilities to receive our nationals, our brothers and sisters who may have visited China in the last 14 days and have returned home and have been identified as being high-risk, to quarantine them in a public facility, as was stated by the travel restriction that we had issued as at last (week) Friday,” said Bryan.

Some personnel at the hospital on Saturday.

According to him, the individuals who have been quarantined will be kept in the facility for 14 days as required by the protocol. During the period, they will be observed and assessed for coronavirus.

He said the staff dealing with sequesters will also be quarantined, although the hospital will continue to be in operation for some of the other services that it usually provides.

Among the services that will be discontinued during the period are radiology and the pharmacy, while the operating theatre, x-ray department and the regular wards will be closed.

A reflection perhaps of the contemplative mood at the hospital on Saturday morning.

Bryan said some of the staff of the hospital will be reassigned to other health facilities within the South East Regional Health Authority, and named Rollington Town, Windward Road and Nannyville Health centres among the options.

However, he said the ministry will be retrofitting the hospital over the next couple of days, to create barriers for individuals who are seeking regular services at the facility, from those who will be quarantined. He said that protocols would also be established.

To allay the fears of members of the Vineyard Town community, he said the designated isolation facility is the National Chest Hospital in Liguanea, St Andrew, while other hospitals across the island will have their isolation centres for individuals who have been suspected or confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Another section of the St Joseph's Hospital compound.

Meanwhile, Bryan said the island currently has enough gear for health workers.

He said should the need arise, the Ministry of Health has arrangements with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) in the United States of America, for assistance in getting more supplies.

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