At the end of the second wave of COVID cases in early 2021 and prior…
Disaster preparedness is a continuous activity at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and although affected by the passage of Hurricane Elsa, staff was well prepared and demonstrated exceptional levels of teamwork and support.
Executive Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Board of Management, Mrs. Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland noted that on Saturday, July 3, a full assessment was conducted of the main QEH grounds, its Enmore Compound, Belleville Annex, the Emergency Ambulance Service (EAS) headquarters and the Harrisons Point Isolation Centre. The assessment showed significant wind and flood damage to roofs and windows of the QEH, as well as uprooted trees across the compound, the most significant of which resulted in damage to a guard hut and a vehicle at the hospital’s River Road entrance. The Harrisons Point Isolation Centre also sustained roof damage to its Primary Isolation Centre, water damage due to leakages, as well as minor infrastructural damage to gates and doors. The EAS sustained significant external damage. Meanwhile, the assessment of the Belleville Annex is still ongoing but initial reports indicate the equipment stored within remains in good condition.
Following the results of the assessment the Executive Chairman and her Executive Directors met to discuss the situation at the hospital and its external compounds, and to map out ensuing response activities. They immediately ascertained that the hospital was fully operational, including the Emergency Services – both the Accident and Emergency Department and the EAS; however a massive cleanup effort would immediately need to be mounted and repairs effected. This commenced immediately and included cleaning of the facilities, replacing damaged and missing roof tiles, the removal of debris and re-securing the hospital’s perimeter.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Elsa, clinical and support staff came out to work and contributed significantly to the maintenance of service delivery. In some instances staff who worked double and triple shifts opted to stay on, and those who were not rostered came out to aid in the response and the ensuing clean-up operation.
Presently the QEH is in the process of returning to normal operations. This includes the admission of patients from the AED which was delayed during the inclement weather due to the temporary removal of the beds located closest to the windows from service.
Bynoe-Sutherland lauded staff for their dedication, stating that “the QEH was able to sustain services throughout Hurricane Elsa and immediately afterwards due to an incredible team effort from medical, nursing, and support staff who worked tirelessly to ensure there were no injuries to staff, and our patients remained safe and well cared for”. She also indicated that there were several members of staff whose homes were damaged during the storm and that the QEH would offer support to these individuals at this difficult time.