Health official begs home quarantine patients to tell truth

SHAR­LENE RAM­PER­SAD

shar­lene.ram­per­sad@guardian.co.tt

 

As the COVID-death toll con­tin­ues to rise, Coun­ty Med­ical Of­fi­cer of Health for Ca­roni Dr Jea­nine St Bernard is ap­peal­ing to pa­tients who are in home quar­an­tine to be truth­ful with doc­tors if their con­di­tions wors­en.

St Bernard made the ap­peal dur­ing the Min­istry of Health’s vir­tu­al press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day, af­ter be­ing asked what were the fac­tors in­flu­enc­ing the spike in COVID-19-re­lat­ed deaths over the past four days.

Since Fri­day, the death toll went from 15 to 22 – with sev­en new deaths, in­clud­ing the lat­est one yes­ter­day – an el­der­ly fe­male with co-mor­bidi­ties.

In her con­tri­bu­tion to the press con­fer­ence, St Bernard iden­ti­fied the symp­toms and pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions that would trig­ger hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion for COVID-19 pa­tients (See box).

She ap­pealed to those pa­tients at home to in­form the Min­istry of Health doc­tors who call them twice dai­ly if their con­di­tions wors­en.

Asked what were the cau­sa­tion­al fac­tors to the re­cent spike in deaths of peo­ple with co-mor­bidi­ties, St Bernard replied, “I think that is a crit­i­cal as­pect to the home man­age­ment of pa­tients with COVID-19, hence the rea­son I made the plea, please let us know.”

St Bernard said there have been cas­es where pa­tients re­port­ed feel­ing well but hours lat­er, their rel­a­tives were phon­ing in for help.

“We have had cas­es where we have asked peo­ple, how are you do­ing and we were told they were do­ing quite fine and by the time rel­a­tives are call­ing, well you know it’s a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. So we do en­cour­age per­sons to re­al­ly en­cour­age peo­ple to state how they are go­ing, how they are feel­ing, so we can avoid any fu­ture deaths at home,” she said.

Speak­ing be­fore St Bernard, Health Min­is­ter Ter­rence Deyals­ingh said the Min­istry of Health was pre­pared to dis­trib­ute 1,000 pulse oxime­ters to pa­tients in home quar­an­tine to help with the process of de­ter­min­ing their con­di­tion.

Demon­strat­ing how the oxime­ter works, St Bernard said if a pa­tient’s oxy­gen lev­el drops to be­low 94 per cent they could die.

“You are be­ing called twice dai­ly to be mon­i­tored via tele­phone, it is crit­i­cal that you tell us what your symp­toms are. If you down­play your symp­toms, this can lead to a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion where­by you can de-com­pen­sate at home and it can pos­si­bly lead to fa­tal con­se­quences,” she said.

She said the tiny mon­i­tor al­so checks for heart rate and warned that if a pa­tient’s heart rate cross­es 110 beats per minute they could need im­me­di­ate hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion.

 

 

BOX

If you are COVID-pos­i­tive and have no pre-ex­ist­ing med­ical con­di­tions but ex­pe­ri­ence the fol­low­ing wors­en­ing symp­toms, you will re­quire im­me­di­ate hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion to save your life.

Any three of the fol­low­ing will trig­ger  hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion

– in­creas­ing short­ness of breath

– in­creas­ing fa­tigue

– con­fu­sion

– chills

– per­sis­tent fever

If you have co­mor­bidi­ties, such as di­a­betes, hy­per­ten­sion or you are im­muno-com­pro­mised, e.g. on steroids, tak­ing chemother­a­py, end-stage re­nal fail­ure or chron­ic pul­monary dis­ease, you will re­quire hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion if you have the fol­low­ing symp­toms:

– in­creas­ing short­ness breath

– any cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem man­i­fes­ta­tion i.e. headaches, dizzi­ness, be­ing in and out of con­scious­ness, un­co­or­di­nat­ed move­ments etc.

If you have any co­mor­bidi­ties and ex­pe­ri­ence any wors­en­ing of symp­toms, im­me­di­ate­ly con­tact an am­bu­lance or go to a hos­pi­tal emer­gency de­part­ment.

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