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Nine Doctors at Antigua’s Mount St. John’s Infected with COVID-19

Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) confirms that there are nine hospital physicians infected with COVID-19 virus.

“The risk to our health-care workers is one of the great vulnerabilities of our health-care system in a pandemic like this,” said Dr. Albert Duncan, MSJMC Medical Director. As medical director, whose team includes these physicians, I know they understand the risks of our calling. “Our thoughts and prayers for a full and speedy recovery are with each of them and their families.”

Seven out of the nine physicians infected, are recuperating well at home. Out of an abundance of caution, two of the physicians are currently at the Infectious Disease Centre (IDC) receiving treatment.

“The growth we are seeing in COVID-19 cases in the country is placing an ever-greater strain on our hospital,” said Dr. Duncan. “This has very real consequences for our team.”

MSJMC was acutely aware of the COVID-19 risk to health care workers. This is a global concern – the unprecedented risks they continue to face during this pandemic. Health workers have a markedly higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, especially if they are exposed to a high volume of sick patients (such as in the Emergency Department (ED)) or respiratory secretions (such as in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)). Because of this, we work closely with health authorities and our infectious disease specialists to ensure the appropriate policies and procedures are in place to mitigate risk.

MSJMC has repeatedly warned of the threat posed by COVID-19 to our employees and has taken several measures to limit the spread of the virus. We are committed to providing safe, high­-quality care for our communities as well as protecting our patients and employees. Currently, testing is prioritized for patients and employees who show symptoms of COVID-19.

Any employee who experiences symptoms is instructed to report those symptoms to MSJMC Infectious Disease/Employee Health Division so they can be evaluated and tested for COVID-19 if needed. Employees are not allowed to work if they have symptoms, and they must be cleared by the Infectious Disease/Employee Health Division before returning to work.

The Medical Director added; “The last thing any hospital wants is for its workforce to be exposed and the workforce to become ill. Our multidisciplinary care teams can’t physically distance themselves from the patients they treat and that increases both the risks and the fear that we all have of losing a colleague.”

“So of course they are stepping up and answering the call for help, but they are not superheroes or angels: they are women and men who have children and families and friends and responsibilities – And as I’ve said before, if you want to honor them; wear a mask, avoid large gatherings, follow the safety guidelines we’ve been shouting from the rooftops since this all started.”

MSJMC urges the public to remain vigilant. The COVID-19 virus is dangerous and its impact is still unfolding. The hospital encourages all eligible residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available and encourage eligible family members and friends to join them in getting the vaccine.