CAYMAN ISLANDS (May 8, 2020) – The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed hospitals around the word into a state of high alert. In the Cayman Islands, there is still a state of uncertainty regarding how the virus could potentially affect the population. But Health City Cayman Islands is ready. The 104-bed tertiary care facility has pledged 47 beds in a dedicated COVID-19 ward and 11 ventilated beds in its Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) to the Cayman Islands’ national treatment strategy to handle COVID-19 cases.
As the only hospital in the Cayman Islands, and indeed in the entire Caribbean region, to offer the highest levels of sophisticated life support technology via Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), medical management at the East End facility are confident that it is well placed to handle any critical cases or any potential surge in numbers of severely affected COVID-19 patients locally.
Clinical Director Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil said, “Health City is the only tertiary care facility on this island so [for] those patients who require that tertiary care level of treatment, you know, like the heart attack or stroke, or advanced liver surgery or complex orthopedic surgery or spine surgery, obviously the cardiac surgery also…we are the only facility.”
Dr. Chattuparambil noted that Health City is a part of the Cayman Islands public/private medical group navigating the territory’s way through previously uncharted waters with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He explained, “We had detailed very discussions with the government hospital under the leadership of the Chief Medical Officer. So, all the stakeholders were there in the meeting, [to determine] how every facility is involved, or is going to be involved, or going to be helpful for this scenario that we all anticipate.”
Several members of Health City’s top management team have been extensively involved in the national level preparations and strategy for treatment and management of COVID-19 patients. One of these medical professionals is Dr. Archita Joshi-Bhatt, Consultant Pulmonologist and the hospital’s Head of Infection Control.
Dr. Joshi-Bhatt outlined the facility’s capabilities and the resources pledged to the country.
She said, “In terms of what Health City can provide…I think we have now offered the maximum number of beds for the care of COVID patients on island, and this is predominately because we do have a lot of ventilators and ventilated beds in the hospital.”
Dr. Joshi-Bhatt explained further, “We have dedicated all 11 beds in the medical intensive care unit to this purpose. We do have room for expansion, if at some time this need arises. But as of now that’s our plan. And we have designated beds on the entire second floor of our hospital for this purpose. So, I think in terms of number of beds itself, I think Health City would be able to offer the maximum number of beds for this purpose, for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. And we also have, of course, the maximum amount of ventilators on island at this time.”
In addition to the required beds and medical equipment, such as ventilators, the availability of qualified and experienced staff is crucial in the treatment of critical and severely affected patients.
Dr. Joshi-Bhatt explained, “And, of course, [we have] the specialists who deal with it, so we have an entire critical care team which would be designated only as a COVID team at that time, in case of a surge.”
Statistically worldwide, only a minority of COVID-19 patients have developed severe symptoms – but of those that do, they require intensive treatment.
Dr. Chattuparambil clarified, “You know that this COVID is a situation where most of the majority of the patients will be either not symptomatic or [have only] mild symptoms. Maybe ten to 15 per cent of the patients will require hospitalization, but after that maybe five per cent will need this mechanical ventilation.”
This, Dr. Chattuparambil explained, is where Health City’s capabilities come to the fore.
He said, “So, that is a stage, [where] Health City plays one more level up in the game actually, because we have the facility to treat those poor patients who are not sustaining their oxygen level even with the highest mode of ventilation with the artificial ventilators. We have the facility to treat them with the machine called ECMO or Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. We have three of these machines. You know that we are the only centre in the entire region with that facility.”
Dr. Joshi-Bhatt highlighted the importance of having this capability available for local patients.
She said, “Just to help you understand in perspective, there are very few centres, even worldwide, or say even in the United States, which we usually use as our reference, which can provide these services. So, in way I think we have a niche, where we can offer, you know, these services to somebody who really needs it. Hopefully we won’t need it, but if they do, we do have it available here.”
Expressing the hospital’s position simply, yet effectively, Dr. Chattuparambil said, “We are ready.”