“We will improve the conditions of health personnel”

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Nurses are among the front line workers ensuring covid19 patients receive the best care. – PHOTO FILE/ANGE MARCELLE

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the health ministry took seriously the recommendations made in the report of the committee appointed to investigate factors contributing to the clinical outcomes of covid19 patients in Trinidad and Tobago.

During Saturday’s virtual covid19 health update, Deyalsingh said among the first items on the agenda were improving working conditions for staff, overall communications, meals and management of data.

“Going forward, data management is going to be key, and I’m glad the committee brought it up. At the Ministry of Health, we now have a national policy on how we digitize the entire health system. »

“One of the priorities now is to operationalize the digitization of all aspects of healthcare delivery, which would benefit our patients and frontline staff and start moving away from paper and pen. “

The report also addressed concerns about staff shortages and accommodation in which it said: “Staff shortages were common. There were complaints at all levels about understaffing. These levels ranged from general management to doctors and nurses, including orderlies and patient escorts. »

He also pointed out that “in some RHAs, some frontline staff felt let down by management.”

The report recommended setting up a specific feedback system to monitor the needs of frontline staff to deal with the problem.

Deyalsingh said that although there are no established protocols for a nurse-patient ratio, the ministry and staff at medical facilities have handled the pandemic well.

“There are no more people to hire. We hired 1,500 or 1,700. In my opinion, RHAs and we have done a reasonable job in handling a global pandemic, for which there is no master plan, for which the world had no no previous experience except 1918. We continue to monitor it and we continue to find ways to deal with it,” he said.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh speaks to health workers at Couva Hospital in February 2021. – FILE PHOTO/MARVIN HAMILTON

Regarding staff accommodation, Deyalsingh said that, based on the report, the data would be used to improve those RHAs that were lagging behind.

The report also recommended increased use of tocilizumab, given its rate of effectiveness in treating covid19 patients.

It said: ‘Tocilizumab is given at an advanced stage of covid19. Most of the staffs were very impressed with its effects and maybe C40 should increase the purchases of this medicine.

“Although it is an expensive drug, there is a cost-benefit to be gained from its use. We recommend that the policy regarding the use of tocilizumab be reviewed.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasaram said the use of tocilizumab on covid19 patients was done according to covid19 guidelines, but the cost factor was something that needed to be considered.

He explained that there was a fair supply of the drug in pre-pandemic TT which was used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

For treating a covid19 patient using the drug, Parasram said it costs about $8,000 to treat an ICU/HCU patient.

He said: “There are clinical guidelines in place, both nationally and at the clinician-led regional health authority (RHA) level, which adopts new evidence that comes to light regarding the use of the drug.

“It’s an expensive drug. It costs us about $8,000 to treat each patient it is given to, so that needs to be considered in terms of purchasing as well.

Parasram added that, based on WHO guidelines, the drug was given to critically ill or critically ill patients, which meant intensive care and intensive care patients.

He said: “We used the WHO guidelines and sent them to the RHAs before we realized the WHO had gone ahead and given the go-ahead.

“Through the clinical coordination committee at the RHA level, they would have adapted this to the different RHAs, looking at the global supply, looking at the supply in front of them to see which had the best use in terms of benefit versus risk to use this medicine is what type of patient.

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