~ Patient visiting hours will be limited starting March 16 ~
CAY HILL: SMMC’s Outbreak Management Team (OMT) has enacted precautionary measures which are taken with the objective to limit the possible exposure to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in order to continue to ensure the safety of SMMC’s patients, staff and visitors alike.
Since the OMT was activated earlier this month, daily meetings have been held, several including members of the Ministry of VSA and VROMI, and the following measures are being taken to continue to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and visitors of the hospital.
- SMMC has increased alertness and surveillance to reduce exposure to COVID-19 which has been enacted through:
- Installation of special COVID-19 signage at all SMMC entry points to highlight symptoms and proper preventive measures such as sanitizing guidelines to all patients and visitors.
- Installation of cough etiquette stations at all SMMC entry points.
- Expansion of triage activities will be done before entering certain sections of the hospital such as the Emergency Room (ER) and the Outpatient Department (policlinics).
- Patient visiting hours will be scaled down to twice a day at 11:30AM to 12:00PM and 6:00PM – 7:00PM starting this Monday March 16th, 2020.
- Number of visitors per patient will be limited to 1 visitor per patient and no children allowed.
- Discharging patients that are non-critical and fit to be discharged.
- Travel of SMMC’s medical specialists will be postponed for the coming 4 weeks. The arrival of incoming specialists will continue as per normal, before his/her arrival they will be screened.
In addition to the above, the OMT received a lecture from a Viral Disease Expert, Gavin Macgregor-Skinner, on COVID-19 learnings. Macgregor-Skinner is the Director of the Global Bio-risk Advisory Council at the Disaster Medicine Institute, Director of Strategic Partnerships in Disaster Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Assistant Professor at Penn State University and a Zika Virus Subject Matter Expert. He was dispatched to Hong Kong and shared his learnings while at the frontline of a COVID-19 epidemic area. SMMC would like to have him provide further lectures and trainings to the various healthcare stakeholders in the near future.
Furthermore, the OMT had a video conference with management of hospitals on Curacao, Aruba including representatives of the Dutch Ministry of Health, ZVK BES, the Dutch Coast Guard and Military. Situation updates were given, best practices shared and available resources on each island discussed as well as sourcing materials within the Dutch Kingdom.
Lastly, SMMC staff information sessions are scheduled for Tuesday March 17 and Wednesday March 18, 2020 to provide an update and answer any questions staff might have. SMMC’s Microbiologist, Dr. Radjin Steingrover, will also be joining these sessions to relay information and address any concerns.
“While there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on St. Maarten (Dutch side), SMMC would like to reiterate the steps to take if you or a family member shows any of the signs of COVID-19 which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath”, stated Dr. Felix Holiday SMMC’s Medical Director and Chairman of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT).
“In case you develop these symptoms, it is of utmost importance that you first call your family doctor instead of going there or coming to SMMC in person. A healthcare worker from Collective Prevention Services (CPS) will come to you for testing in case of suspected COVID-19 infection. It is very important that, in case you develop the symptoms, you should home isolate and follow the instructions from your family doctor and CPS. You should also call your family doctor if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19”, Dr. Holiday concluded.
In the interest of public health and in an effort to be proactive in minimizing the transmission of the virus, SMMC is asking visitors of patients currently admitted to SMMC to refrain from visiting the hospital if they are experiencing any symptoms which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Persons visiting the hospital that do not have the above-mentioned symptoms are kindly asked to follow all instructions on proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
SMMC also urges the public to call the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) hotline 914, if they have any questions or require additional information regarding COVID-19. SMMC’s Outbreak Management Team will share information in subsequent press releases.