RADHICA DE SILVA

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For three days a COVID-19 positive patient was kept on the surgical ward of the San Fernando General Hospital possibly exposing other patients and visitors to the deadly virus.

After concerns were raised, the man, who is wheelchair-bound, was removed from the ward at 4 am on Monday.

A medical doctor who was doing rounds at the ward had been heard complaining about why a COVID-19 positive patient was being kept on the surgical ward.

It was then other patients were alerted.

Ward 6 Surgical ward on the first floor has 18 patients in two sections and accommodates amputees and other patients with comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension and heart ailments.

A source who requested anonymity said the patients on the ward seemed oblivious to the man’s condition even though his bed was screened off and a nurse in full PPE sat near a window. Other patients were separated from the COVID-19 positive patient by a screen.

Despite the screens, the COVID-19 patient used the same washroom as the other patients and would wheel himself through the ward to get there before returning to the screened-off area.

“These screens cannot prevent anyone from becoming exposed. Only the nurse was well protected with PPE but everyone else on the ward, at least 18 patients plus all the visitors who came to see them have been exposed over the past three days,” the source said.

Medical personnel at the ward was upset that the man was being kept in a place where there were patients with co-morbidities.

A floor of the San Fernando Hospital had been used to house COVID-19 patients but this floor is separate from any public area frequented by other non-COVID-19 patients.

“We want to know why the authorities brought him to Ward 6. It is not fair to the other patients. There are other facilities where he could have been housed,” a source added.

Senior government officials were contacted on Sunday night and arrangements were made to transfer the patient to a COVID facility.

Contacted for comment Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said, “Ask the CEO as I always advise. This is very important and he is on-site.”

Calls and messages to the Chief Executive Officer of the Southwest Regional Health Authority Dr Brian Armour went unanswered.