Daily Archives: September 30, 2009

First Swine Flu – H1N1 Death in Barbados – Patients report no masks, no hand gel at Warrens Polyclinic!

Barbados Swine Flu Death

Barbados Swine Flu Death “an adult and had underlying medical conditions”

Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Joy St. John informed the media Wednesday night that Barbados has had 96 cases of H1N1 and unfortunately, its first H1N1 flu death.

Dr. St. John said she “deeply regretted the passing of the person” and offered her condolences to friends and family. She urged the public to take the necessary precautionary measures and follow the guidelines put out by the Ministry of Health, so as to minimise the risk of contracting the H1N1 virus.

Joy St John Barbados

“We must continue to practise good hygiene if we are going to overcome this H1N1 outbreak. This death also shows that those predisposed groups must be extremely careful,”

…Barbados Chief Medical Officer: Dr. Joy St. John in Press Release – First H1N1 Death in Barbados

Dr. St. John was quick to point out that the 96 recorded cases “does not accurately reflect the current incidence of the disease here, since we have not been swabbing everybody who has exhibited flu-like symptoms in wake of the fact that there is in-country transmission.”

Trouble Reported at Warrens Polyclinic – No hand gel, limited mask use

Two hours before the press release by Dr. St. John, Barbados Free Press received the following from a reader, which we have edited to preserve their anonymity…

This is what happened when I went to be tested for suspected H1N1 virus.

When you go in at the Warrens Polyclinic it has a sign that says “ask for a mask here” so I knocked and knocked and no one came.  There’s a big poster from the MOH asking you to identify yourself as a “flu patient”, to be segregated I suppose, although there was absolutely no urgency for those showing up with flu symptoms, no trying to segregate them immediately.   I wasn’t given a mask (and no one else was either) until at least one hour after I arrived and then about 6 masks were given out to us, and I was told to sit next to children arriving for immunizations, etc.  I had enough common sense to try to keep away from the young ones.

Finally, after 1 hour I went into the holding pen for the H1N1 swabbies like me and everyone had their masks around their necks.  People walked in & out of the room without masks or a care in the world.  Hello, there’s no pandemic here is there? The only serious one there was the lone doctor in his mask and paper suit that stuck his neck out once to look at us all and pop back in.  There was a large poster depicting hand washing, but absolutely no hand sanitizer equipment or facilities of any kind were there.  I didn’t see anyone super ill, but how hard is it for a young girl with her 2 kids there, waiting for “hours!” as she said to me.  I can’t believe how inefficient it all was.

So I waited for 2 hours at the Warrens Polyclinic waiting to get tested for H1N1 as that is where FMH said to go, as they are not allowed to test anymore for it.   After two hours of waiting I just upped and left, as it was like being in Nairobi and I couldn’t take it anymore as I hadn’t been seen to by anyone but a receptionist who had made me wait over an hour to ask me what my business was, taking anyone who came in after me before me.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Whilst waiting to go in to speak to the nurse before the swab, I had to witness men going into the “Mens Toil” (the latter letters having disappeared) and not shutting the door behind them as they pissed.  And with nowhere to wash their hands, I was ready to hurl.  The hygiene, or lack therefore, that I noticed was incredible.  I got a friend of mine to pick me up, she nearly died when she saw me wearing the full mask on my face when I came out of the clinic.  I’m not one to slam this country, but God, is some of these government services a mess.

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Barbados Family & Friends Club – Good idea, good start making it happen!

Barbados-Family-Friends sht-header

A friend directed our attention to the website of the Barbados Family & Friends Club – an initiative by the Barbados Tourism Authority to encourage Bajans abroad and people overseas (Bajan or not) who love Barbados to encourage their friends and family to vacation in Barbados. There is a membership card with points for each referral and discounts once folks are on the island.

The points are a “nice to have” feature to reward those in the diaspora who help Barbados through referrals. I think that people will collect points and this will maintain interest in the programme by giving the cards and membership some value, no matter how modest. The folks who put this together should be thanked and congratulated. I only hope that the people administering the programme receive the long term resources to make it successfully grow into a major source of visitors and revenues for Barbados. It seems to me that this type of programme needs a few evangelists to make it work because merely sticking up a website won’t be enough.

Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy greets visitors to the website in a video where he comes across as your best friend inviting you back home for a visit. No slick politician fine words: just a sincere message that we care about our friends and family living over and away, that we’d love to see them again, and we could use your help to invite other friends to Barbados.

I think that Minister Sealy’s talk is exactly what is needed to set the tone and purpose for this programme. Have a look for yourself and tell me if you agree that he did an excellent job…

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism