San Pedro Town installs temporary health care center to treat flu and potential Coronavirus cases
Monday, March 30th, 2020
As the pandemic COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to wreak havoc around the world, Belize is now dealing with its first three cases. San Pedro Town has taken the initiative to create a temporary medical facility center, where patients who test positive and need to be in intensive care and observation can be treated.
The center, called San Pedro Care Center, counts with an isolation unit, a flu clinic, a pharmacy and a temporary isolation area. All islanders with any flu-like symptoms are asked to not visit the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II, but may do so at this new health center located in the Mar de Tumbo area, south of downtown San Pedro. Opening Hours are: Weekdays, 8am – 5pm and on Weekends, 8am – 12 noon.
The health care center is the product of a community joint effort, which turned an inactive property with an abandoned building into an efficient medical facility.
In just a couple of days, the work of dozens of volunteers has given life to what is considered the only complete health center in the country treating persons with flu-related symptoms.
The building was refurbished and turned into a 30-bed ward facility distributed within five rooms.
Each room has its own entry/exit to the outside, through which the patient is brought by ambulance. After they feel better, they leave through the same doorway. Other amenities in the isolation unit include bathrooms, an ante-room/decontamination zone where medical personnel change into their protective gear.
There is also a back-up generator and outside showers for medical staff to use before leaving the property. The outside staff shower rooms count with a wastewater treatment system as well.
Meanwhile, three military tents are pitched on the property to serve as the flu clinic, pharmacy, and temporary isolation area.
Some of the medical staff from the island’s PolyClinic are manning the fort, and according to Dr. Javier Canul they are ready to tend to any COVID-19 case that may need to be placed under observation. He explained that when people arrive at the center, they are directed by the security guard at the entrance of the compound to the first tent, known as the flu clinic.
“Once you are there, the doctor will see you. If the patient could be a possible case of COVID-19, then he or she is sent to another tent, which is the temporary isolation unit until you can get swabbed,” said Dr. Canul. “After the swab, if the person is stable enough, they are provided with medications from the pharmacy and can go home to self-isolate. However, if we consider that the person needs oxygen or needs some other treatment, then he or she is taken to the isolation unit.”
At this stage, the aim is to stabilize the patient, and if the situation escalates (gets severe), arrangements will be made to take the person to Belize City. Dr. Canul spoke about the two confirmed cases on the island and stated that they are not at the newly established health care center, because they are stable enough to be home in self-isolation.
Dr. Canul added that in the isolation ward, there are cameras to monitor the persons placed in observation. “We have cameras in each room, so we do not need to be there physically to check on the patient,” he said. The San Pedro Care Center is still being improved and in the upcoming days, they are expecting to get additional equipment such as ventilators. Although the project has been a successful community effort, they hope that they never have to use it to treat a COVID-19 case.
Organizers thank everyone who has been with them from the day when the project began. They encourage everybody to continue practicing good hygiene, social distancing and staying at home. They also take this opportunity to thank all involved in making this project a reality: Playa del Sol, Banyan Bay Suites, Victoria House, The Phoenix, Sandbar Beachfront Hostel and Restaurant, Mahogany Bay Resort and Beach Club, Pete Davis, Portofino, PUR Boutique Cabañas and Taco Bar, Cornwall Church, Playa de Sala, Dinesh Bhojwani, Astrum Helicopters, The Belize Bank, The Truck Stop, Rickilee Response and Rescue (Triple R), Somos Scuba Diving Center, the National Emergency Management Organization –NEMO, the staff of Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II, Belize Coastal Science Alliance, Ministry of Health, The San Pedro Town Council, Area Representative Honourable Manuel Heredia Jr., Mirab Furniture Gallery, Alaia Belize, Nate Womack, Robbie Zeske, the Chinese Community, the Lebanese Community, and countless of other volunteers.
Please help support Local Journalism in Belize
For the first time in the history of the island's community newspaper, The San Pedro Sun is appealing to their thousands of readers to help support the paper during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1991 we have tirelessly provided vital local and national news. Now, more than ever, our community depends on us for trustworthy reporting, but our hard work comes with a cost. We need your support to keep delivering the news you rely on each and every day. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Please support us by making a contribution.Click to Donate