COVID surge sickens doctors, overwhelms health facilitiesSaturday, January 15, 2022
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA) is calling for health facilities to commence operating in emergency mode given an overburdened healthcare system, with understaffed and sick doctors due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The association has also requested an urgent meeting with Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton to discuss the way forward.
In a statement on Saturday, the JMDA said that while there is an increased number of individuals seeking care at health facilities, there is also a large number of junior doctors who are in isolation or quarantine due to the high levels of exposure from caring for patients with COVID-19.
As a result, it said there is an islandwide disruption in the association's ability to provide adequate patient care because they are understaffed.
“Those who remain on the ground currently are getting sick and/or suffering from burnout. It is impractical for us to be expected to run clinics, wards, operating theatres, and all emergency units on a vastly reduced staff cohort,” the association explained.
“We are thus requesting that health facilities commence operating in emergency mode. The JMDA will always prioritise the wellbeing of our junior doctors whilst ensuring that we efficiently carry out our duties in a safe work environment,” it continued.
Jamaica is currently facing the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases.
The JMDA further appealed to the Jamaican citizens to wear well fitted masks, wash hands frequently, stay six feet apart, get vaccinated and most importantly stay home when sick.
It noted that it is likely that both the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19 are in circulation, of which symptoms can range from a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, headache, fever and chills, diarrhoea and shortness of breath.
“We are aware that people think that there is a 'bad flu' going around, but the assumption needs to be that this 'bad flu' is COVID-19 until proven otherwise. It is unconscionable to expose others unnecessarily, especially when you are unaware of their medical comorbidities,” the association said.
It added that, “Too many Jamaicans have lost their lives. Each life lost was someone's mother, father, sibling or child. We implore persons to get vaccinated as it reduces the risk of serious illness and hospitalisation; thereby lessening the burden on the healthcare system.”