Castries Doctors Will Not Handle Patients If Suspected to be Ebola Infected

St Lucia’s attempts to show any kind of serious preparation to confront the dreaded Ebola virus landing here was mired in confusion and controversy yesterday.

A key health institution on the island flatly admitted that it would not accept anyone with Ebola-like symptoms through its doors.

The main opposition United Workers Party called on the government to embark on a more aggressive engagement with the public to get a comprehensive hold on its preparations in the event that St Lucia was under threat from the disease.

{IMAGE VIA - CGH Online/Flickr, Item By Micah George}But there were some disturbing reports as well. One reaching THE VOICE indicated that many local doctors were beginning to exempt themselves from responding to Ebola if the need should arise. The same source revealed that the police and other key agencies were unaware of the various protocols to be implemented in fighting the disease and were yet to receive protective clothing or kits to be used in the event a case were to surface here.

{IMAGE VIA – CGH Online/Flickr, Item By Micah George}But there were some disturbing reports as well. One reaching THE VOICE indicated that many local doctors were beginning to exempt themselves from responding to Ebola if the need should arise. The same source revealed that the police and other key agencies were unaware of the various protocols to be implemented in fighting the disease and were yet to receive protective clothing or kits to be used in the event a case were to surface here.

One reliable source told THE VOICE: “This is serious. Even grave diggers have to be sensitized and trained but the authorities are tweedling their thumbs. The TB section has been designated as the isolation ward should we get a case here. Is this really appropriate or just somewhere which was available because of minimal TB patients?”

The decision by Tapion Hospital not to handle Ebola patients appeared to fit into the ongoing scenario.

Our protocol basically states that we are not admitting any patient who has any symptoms of Ebola. We are not going to admit any Ebola suspected cases and if we do get a case the decision is to call the Ebola on-call team who will come in and to do a further assessment of the patient and who will take the patient away,” Nurse Eleanor Alexis from Tapion Hospital said this week justifying the no admittance policy of privately-run Tapion.

She made the point that the health institution was a small one with limited space and without the capacity to admit patients with Ebola.

But Tapion’s position came under fire from many people who resorted to Facebook to express themselves. One, an American, called the Tapion position “shameful“, “uncharitable” and “illegal” making the point that hospitals, public or private were prohibited by law from denying a patient care in an emergency. (THE REST OF THE VOICE’S STORY CAN BE FOUND BY CLICKING here)

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