'Difficult Decisions Will Have To Be Made' If Healthcare System Continues Operating Beyond Capacity

Health Minister Renward Wells, Dr Nikkiah Forbes and Dr Pearl McMillan speak on Friday.

Health Minister Renward Wells, Dr Nikkiah Forbes and Dr Pearl McMillan speak on Friday.


Tribune Staff Reporter


HEALTH officials admitted Friday that tough decisions will have to be made concerning the patients that will be given priority care if the country’s healthcare system continues to operate beyond its current capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Dr Nikkiah Forbes made the revelation during the ministry’s press conference on Friday – where it was revealed that the country recorded 132 cases on Thursday, pushing the nation’s count to 5,517. 

Friday’s data was not released at the time this article was published. 

However, Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan has revealed that one in 70 Bahamians have contracted COVID-19.

“The absolute reality of the situation is when healthcare systems are beyond capacity, we won’t be able to care for the number of patients that are presenting,” Dr Forbes said during the Ministry of Health’s press conference Friday.

“It’s a real challenge. You heard in the minister’s address that there are currently more patients than the capacity of Princess Margaret Hospital. There’s 73 patients but the bed capacity is in fact only 70. The absolute reality of the situation is when healthcare systems are beyond capacity, we won’t be able to care for the number of patients that are presenting.”

This comes after former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands revealed in a radio interview on Thursday that healthcare workers are having to choose who lives and who dies given the continued strain being placed on the health care system.

On Friday, Health Minister Renward Wells noted that bed capacity for COVID-19 patients continues to be stretched, with PMH already exceeding its maximum limit.

Recounting her recent experiences, Dr Forbes said there have been instances where workers have had to become resourceful and make changes where possible in order to provide care for COVID-19 patients due to overcrowding issues.

She said: “On at least one of the nights I was on call we did have a patient present to the emergency room and we did not have the suitable room to manage that patient. What we had to do is to shift patients around, more stable patients so that we can offer that patient the kind of oxygen and respiratory support that patient needed.

“I can’t speak for the other facilities, but I can tell you that the reality of the situation is facilities are beyond capacity and you could be in a situation where you could not manage the patient and you might not be able to care for a patient that needs respiratory support.”

She continued: “Currently, at the PMH, patients are in care areas that were not designed or allocated for COVID care including places in the emergency room and other areas and facilities where we have had to change them.

“I believe the other context of the comments was what about non COVID care? So we have been forced to open wards to provide COVID care . . . At this time, I have not seen a patient die because we haven’t been able to support them and pick someone else who has had to live but I will tell you the reality of the situation is we continue beyond capacity, those difficult decisions will have to be made.” 


Samaritan's Purse set up the unit on Friday. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

To help increase patient capacity, Mr Wells said a partnership between the government and Samaritan’s Purse will allow for the establishment of a 28-bed COVID-19 isolation and treatment unit.

Also painting a grim picture of the country’s COVID-19 situation, Dr McMillan noted that New Providence continues to be the epicenter of the virus spread, accounting for 76.8 percent of all confirmed cases.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis reimposed a number of restrictions on New Providence and Abaco due to high COVID cases there, including a weekend lockdown and stricter curfew hours. 

The chief medical officer said, while no flattening of the curve is yet being examined for New Providence, Abaco has made some progress.

Still, she said it will take some time for officials to see results due to the restrictive measures. 

In the meantime, Dr McMillan said the ministry will continue to monitor COVID cases especially as officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the amount of new cases being recorded  in recent days on some islands, which have not recorded new infections for weeks.

“Some of are Family Islands are now demonstrating increases in new cases after a period of COVID quiet. Particularly concerning Eleuthera and Berry Island as we alluded to. These islands have a similar trend to Abaco, which was flagged for an increase of restrictive measures last week,” she said. 

Asked if those islands could see more restrictive measures being implemented in the days ahead, health officials said recommendations have already been made to the government for more restrictions to be added on Eleuthera and Berry Islands.

This comes as the country is preparing to re-open its tourism industry in just about two weeks. 

Due to current high cases, some residents have expressed concern about the country’s readiness to re-open next month, fearful of a repeat of the July scenario where the decision to significantly relax travel restrictions resulted in a surge of new infections.

Asked if officials feels confident that the country is ready for its reopening, Health Minister Renward Wells said: “The government of the Bahamas in seeking to be responsive to the needs of the Bahamian people are seeing how it can best manage the survival of our economic life as well as the physical life and livelihood of the Bahamian people.

“Whereas we are receiving advice as to what needs to take place within the health sphere, we’re also taking all of that into consideration in the decision-making process. Obviously, as a government we’re never going to do anything that going to overtly endanger the lives of our people but we do believe that we are on to a model/formula that can work.”


Economist 4 days, 8 hours ago

Dr. Forbes is the only one who sounds as if she has a grip on this.

She is our Dr Fauci.


ISpeakFacts 3 days, 22 hours ago

No, Dr. Sands is our Dr. Fauci! They both get praised to high heaven for doing absolutely nothing during this pandemic!


ISpeakFacts 4 days, 1 hour ago

Wells on the left looks like a stonewalled dummy and McMillan on the right looks like a damn zombie, these idiots clearly don't know what they're doing, not like they ever have!


benniesun 3 days, 16 hours ago

You are right on the both of them. They should be in the shallow end of the kiddie pool instead of irrationally dog paddling in the ocean. This so called virus will not stop until we all are immune to it - but then again it mutates in three to six months then we lockdown all over again - FOREVER!

Welcome to the age of madness.


ThisIsOurs 1 day, 18 hours ago

remember Moses couldn't tslk good. Competency is not wrapped up in physical characteristics. Dats how we get in this mess.. good lookin posers. We need to route out competence, we een gat to go far, it right here


RealTalk 4 days ago

"However, Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan has revealed that one in 70 Bahamians have contracted COVID-19."

Let us be realistic for once! We only performed 2,500 tests before our "second wave" in July. From July until now we performed over 24,000 tests. It is a clear indication that we had no real data during the "first wave" because there was no testing done. There were 800 - 900 people at a time in quarantine!

My guess is that we have had 2-3 maybe even 4 times the reported number of positive cases thus far...


bahamianson 4 days ago

Listen , these people have no clue just like the rest of the world's health care specialist. The only way is to socially distance ourselves, wear a mask, wash our hands and of course, lockdown. These are the only measures, besides the vaccine , that we have, period. With specialist's advice changing by the second, whom knows? Dr. Fauci said months ago that masks do not work, and he is an expert.


ISpeakFacts 3 days, 22 hours ago

Dr. Fauci and every other "expert" all have one thing in common, they're delusional lackeys who are clearly on China's payroll! Did everybody forget that this clown said its okay to travel on cruise ships and planes back in March?


proudloudandfnm 2 days, 15 hours ago

You really need to stop watching fox...



Schemer18 3 days, 21 hours ago

A country with ONLY 250,000 Bahamian, & they can't get it right on the Healthcare System!

They are acting like it is a big deal what they are doing


ohdrap4 3 days, 20 hours ago

Well spoken moppers. Dey like to use words that big and long. But they dont know what they saying is wrong.


tribanon 3 days, 20 hours ago

Does this mean Minnis and D'Aguilar got it all wrong yet again and our country will not in fact be able to accommodate all of those tourists they claim are lined-up waiting to come visit us on November 1?

I can't imagine the management teams of the major hotels in our country and their foreign lawyers reacting too well to this most dire and disheartening, not to mention long over due, confession by our healthcare officials information.

And to think how well we were doing before that most fateful and very foolish decision of Minnis and D'Aguilar to pre-maturely re-open our borders on July 1, at a time when Florida was experiencing rampant community spread of the deadly Communist China Virus. As I've said time and time again, there's no hope for us as long as these two incompetent, directionless and uncaring buffoons remain in office.


ISpeakFacts 3 days, 17 hours ago

The only tourists that are lined-up waiting are the ones inside Minnis and D'Aguilar's heads!

The Lockdown King must be out of his mind if he thinks that tourists are going to visit this police state and follow his every command!


whogothere 3 days, 18 hours ago

Forbes is smart, coherent, ‘on it’ but she covered for Sands alarmist comments on Thursday, although I understand the medical elites want to make sure the public don’t take COVID lightly for the sake the vulnerable it’s also clear that there are ‘stable’ patients clogging up ‘COVID’ beds which overstates the notion of a calamitous public system under imminent collapse - and creates a false narrative. Occupancy of hospital beds stands at around 80% (and this excludes NEMA tent beds) according to the press conference last night but this is in fact normal. And would suggest to the credit Bahamian health professionals they are effectively managing the situation but it’s is disheartening to see them misconstrue the facts somewhat..



joeblow 3 days, 14 hours ago

The lack of organizational efficiency suggests that the doctors are better at talking than doing! We are among the worse in the world at managing this problem. They are like a dog chasing its tail.
Seven months into this thing and we still don't know what is actually being done for patients, testing has not improved, antibody testing has not been included and contact tracing has failed miserably. This entire exercise has been an absolute failure for which no one has been fired yet! We need nation wide antibody testing so that those who have already recovered from this disease can go back to work.


SP 3 days, 13 hours ago

As usual, you people are awfully good at criticizing everybody else's failures, but short on being of any help.

Covid-19 is also blowing up all over the world in countries with huge economies and vast resources, and they too find themselves in the same situation as the Bahamas.

This is no time for partisan thinking. Mr Wells and crew are far from perfect, but doing all they can with what they have.

However, why they don't simply mandate everyone take zinc, vitamin D, B, & C and other proven preventatives remains a mystery.


ohdrap4 3 days, 12 hours ago

Those are prescribed to people who have covid. They must be afraid there is not enogh.


joeblow 3 days, 11 hours ago

@SP... your response makes it clear that you do not understand what is going on! There is a clear difference in approach between countries that have had some success and others that have not. Many have been making common sense suggestions, both to address the spread of covid and its reduce the economic impact, for months to no avail.

The only way not to get this virus is to not breathe! As I write this there is still a limited ban on the importation of certain masks in this country. Does that suggest they are doing their best?? And BTW there are many who have recovered from this disease without the vitamin recommendations you have made and there are those who have died despite the best treatment so it is unfair to suggest that various vitamins are a panacea!

If you want review, this letter to the editor in the Guardian from 5 months ago!


or this one from one week ago!



TalRussell 3 days, 13 hours ago

The cries calling for tough decisions concerning the demands of the colony's health caring of patients were here long before any virus. New cries to Cancel the War on Drugs must also be recognised for the strain it places on delivering patients' healthcare. Shakehead once for Yeah for Universal BahamaCare for all, Twice for Not?


Topdude 3 days, 13 hours ago

It is very hurtful to read the stupidity posted on this article. Why is it we Bahamians cannot once and for all time come together for our nation’s sake? When one reads these comments it makes one want to cry, not VOMIT. COVID-19 is not the fault of Prime Minister Minnis’ Government. His Government has been dealt a bad hand by circumstances and it is doing its best to contain, control and mitigate the effects of this heretofore unknown disease. Covid-19 control and eradication was not in the FNM’s Manifesto.

However, what was in its Manifesto was to bring the most honest, efficient and prescient Government into force to replace a most dishonest, corrupt and puerile PLP led Government. The Bahamian electorate accepted this commitment and gave the corrupt PLP the short shrift.

Our Government is doing the best it can and continues to do so every single day. It does not need the wounded PLP to sit on the sidelines, chomping at the bits to get their hands back in the public purse, with some pot in their heads, to take puerile pot shots at our Government and our Leader.

I wonder what the likes of Tribanon will say when Prime Minister Minnis is awarded the Nobel Peace prize. They will go mad.

So my point is the Government of the Bahamas cannot do more than what is possible with the limited resources it has at its disposal under the present circumstances.

Isolate yourselves, wash your hands, stop abusing marijuana and alcohol and be cool.

God Bless Prime Minister Minnis and the members of his Cabinet. Long live the FNM.


TalRussell 3 days, 12 hours ago

My Comrade Top, had me a swingin' whilst admittedly takin a cautious duck or two, your way that was right up until you called to stop abusing marijuana. You need to learn much about the new and progressive campaign to Cancel the War on Drugs!


joeblow 3 days, 10 hours ago

... COVID is not the PM's fault, a failure to properly address the problem is. The government, not the people of the Bahamas has failed to use widespread antigen or antibody testing for months now. The government has failed at contact tracing and has failed to remove the partition between the public and private health care sectors to properly address the problem. It has not only contributed to the spread to covid (by impromptu lockdowns), allowing flights to family islands from places of active disease but to the devastation of the economy as well!


TalRussell 3 days, 8 hours ago

My Comrade Joe, funny you would mention Mr. Minnis, was just this past Friday and Saturday, reading copies communications sent to me originating the year 2009. directed to PMH's board, and guess who they originated from? One 2009 health minister a Dr. Minnis.


DDK 3 days, 12 hours ago

If I am not mistaken, were patients not lying on gurnies in the hallways of PMH, often writhing in pain and unattended, due to lack of beds and competent medical personnel, long before the advent of the dreaded Covid19?


ISpeakFacts 3 days, 11 hours ago

PMH was and always will be a guaranteed death sentence!


whogothere 2 days, 22 hours ago

Agreed from what I can find PM is actually no more than it is any other year. Roughly 80% occupancy....


John 2 days, 18 hours ago

Ok peep this: there will be no vaccine for covid-19 pandemic. If a vaccine is developed, it will be long after the virus has disappeared. And if it is developed the efficacy rate will be below 60 %. Meaning more than half the people taking the vaccine will not be protected. And the vaccine will be even less effective among old people. A vaccine will be less than 20 % effective in protecting persons over the age of 60 years. And because the virus mutates,a vaccine will be required once a year and maybe twice or more annually.


benniesun 2 days, 18 hours ago

@John - The vaccines for covid-19 are already being tested, and some tests are being skipped because of the urgency to have a vaccine. In developed countries the military will be used to vaccinate the population. Apparently, Canada is preparing to lockdown all provinces in the 2nd quarter of 2021 due to an anticipated pandemic of COVID-21. We should anticipate foreign military intervention sometime in the future - under the guise of necessary medical intervention.


John 2 days, 13 hours ago

There will be NO vaccine ok. Once those vaccines go through the tests and trials and reconfigurations and approvals, the virus will have mutated, possibly more than once and so the vaccine will be obsolete


rodentos 2 days, 6 hours ago

there will be... well there will be something they want to inject everyone. Think about it


proudloudandfnm 2 days, 15 hours ago

And where are you getting this garbage info from?

Lemme guess...



benniesun 2 days, 14 hours ago

Do your research and collect info of what is going on worldwide, then engage your grey matter to analyze the same - taking the present situations to their logical conclusions. You guys have your favorite inept cronies who are paid handsomely to do that even though they are intellectually challenged. I guess you are also saying that my prognosis of the Bahamas being on the verge of starvation is also garbage. 2021 is only a few short months away and we all will experience the results of ineptitude and shortsightedness.


rodentos 2 days, 6 hours ago

and what is next to come is a major oil spill from drilling, then goodbye Bahamas


rodentos 2 days, 6 hours ago

thats very likely. Unless they push vaccines without proper testing. If you take a RNA vaccine that was developed within a year you are nothing more than a moron.


John 2 days, 13 hours ago

There will be NO vaccine for the covid-19 virus. After 1:3 of the world’s population is infected, with the relevant deaths, herd immunity will kick in and the virus will disappear . Proper wearing of masks, social distancing, proper hygiene and maintaining a strong immune system is your best defense. Stay woke.


benniesun 2 days, 12 hours ago

Think of being in a crowded theater and someone wants to clear it out really fast. That person pulls the fire alarm and shouts fire, which should accomplish his goal. Well think of the plandemic in terms of the pulled fire alarm and the shouts - it is a way to an end ie a cover for something else more sinister. Lockdowns are here to stay until that goal is accomplished.


John 2 days, 12 hours ago

This vaccine travels around the world getting more infectious and more deadly. Once it reaches back to its point of origin, it has mutated, probably several times. When the antibodies in a person who has been infected and recovered becomes more resistant then it will block the virus. Once enough people develops this resistance, herd immunity will kick in and the virus will disappear.


ThisIsOurs 1 day, 16 hours ago

We're already making difficult decisions: We're deciding who does and who doesn't get food. Deciding who lives and dies is just a step closer to the edge


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