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Freddy Grinana

SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

A registered nurse, who came to this country from Cuba to assist the health sector over 15 years ago, has been the first nurse to die from a confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus.

He has been identified as Freddy Grinan.

Grinan last worked at the Accident and Emergency Department of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.

He was last on duty on May 13.

On May 19, he was warded at the Caura Hospital after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus.

On May 23, he was transferred to the Couva hospital but he died the next day.

T&T Registered Nurses Association president Idi Stuart told Guardian Media Grinan’s death has hit his colleagues hard.

“It happened very suddenly, this new variant, aside from the increase in cases, aside from the death rate, the speed in which persons are degenerating is really something…this really has rocked the nursing community and all health care workers at this time,” Stuart said.

He said Grinan worked in a number of areas within the North Central Regional Health Authority, where he was loved and admired by many.

“He was almost a Trinidadian by default because like most of the Cuban nurses, they were fully accepted in Trinidad and Tobago, they mingled well, they interacted with all of their colleagues and they are very loving and close knit people so that translated into the workplace.”

Stuart said Grinan’s death has left his colleagues not only in mourning but also scared for their own safety.

“It is the first time I am actually seeing they are fearful, before they weren’t really fearful, but losing Freddy, who wasn’t ailing, who didn’t have any complaints or was ill, they actually just worked with him on Thursday and then suddenly, he is no more, so that would really rock anyone tremendously.”

Stuart said contact tracing will have to be done to ascertain whether Grinan contracted the virus at the hospital but he said Grinan worked in one of the most at-risk departments.

Stuart said a number of the Regional Health Authority’s have been creating their own parallel health care systems within the public health care system- by setting up tents to house COVID-positive patients until they can be admitted to a facility. He said the Intensive Care Units in some facilities are being split- with one arm responsible for regular patient care and the other responsible for the care of critically ill COVID-19 patients.

“The numbers are just overwhelming, I got a glimpse of the press conference today saying that the parallel health care system there was an increase in bed space. We are not seeing that being reflected, if that is indeed so, we would hope the hundred plus patients awaiting treatment across Trinidad will be able to access treatment instead of having them wait under these tents that are totally unsuitable for managing these critically ill patients,” Stuart said.

He said in the past, the RHA’s have denied that nurses who contracted the virus would have gotten it at work. Stuart said several nurses have died after testing positive for the virus but those deaths were not classified as COVID-19 deaths.