Headed to the Hospital? It's a prospect that in the current climate makes many Belizeans nervous and with good reason, that's because at least one person is said to have died from respiratory issues right in the national referral hospital's parking lot.

A terrible fate and one that you'd hope to avoid at all costs. This afternoon Cherisse Halsall took this concern to the Director of medical services and he explained the process for check in, in the hopes that such an unfortunate incident never happen again.

You've heard the COVID emergency instructions, they're given to the elderly but also to diabetics and hypertensives. "If you have high blood pressure or diabetes and develop a symptom of COVID-19 - sore throat, cough, difficulty breathing - Call your doctor immediately."

But what if your doctor determines that it's time to head for the hospital? It's a situation that many Belizeans have found themselves in this year and it can be daunting, even more so if your emergency occurs under the cover of night.

And this afternoon we headed to the hospital to ask the Acting Medical Director just how to enter or bring a loved one to the hospital in the midst of the pandemic.

Dr. Adrian Coye - Acting Director of Medical Services
"When you come to engage us in care there is a triage point which you will see at the front of the hospital that triage point is, again the nurse will interview you see if you have symptoms or not and be able to say okay you're going to go into the area where we investigate you as possibly having COVID because again you have to tease out the different symptoms etc or they may direct you to this side which is where are standing, the non-Covid access to the hospital. So the triage point also has a booth as you've seen in everything else this booth has the safety features that allow you to do the diagnostic swabbing of patients, so really we want to strengthen the way that process occurs which is right at the entrance, the triage area, strengthen the process of doing swabbing. We have the assurance that our staff is able to give a rapid test within 2 hours and of course patients who are symptomatic, they often go onto having a PCR test even if the rapid test is negative but the asymptomatic ones are the tricky ones because even rapid test may not show them to be positive, so that's the challenge that we have but ultimately our aim is to try and heighten our surveillance to minimize aberrancy or unexpected inadvertent entry into our non covid area with patients and who others who may have covid."

Coye also spoke about the unfortunate incidents of several Covid patients who died from respiratory issues in the hospital's parking lot.

Dr. Adrian Coye
"Those were very unfortunate events in the past, we've done a lot of measures in terms of heightened awareness of who is out here and with that the process has remained unchanged, that you have to have a triage point as the way that sorts you to come towards this part of the hospital which is the A&E, for non-Covid -patients or non-COVID condition patient and on the left the usual route that every knows about going to accident and emergency is actually the side of the hospital where we have our covid treating area. They will come up probably the same path as usual but at the point where the gate is, the guard and our nurse is there to see and determine if they have to triage them while they are in the car, assess their condition, if their able to come out and sit in the area then that's fine, we can also do that as well but ultimately from that sorting point, you either going to go left or right. So, the main thing is that you can still drive into the emergency entrance, but you may end up being redirected to the carpark in front of the hospital. I know it may sound confusing but really it has to be done so that we protect everyone."

The man in question who passed away in the hospital's parking lot was Police Corporal David Jimenez. There are also anecdotal reports of a second parking lot COVID death shortly after his.

Covid Tests Upon Admission

And those constantly high numbers are part of the reason why the K.H.M.H, the hospital has instituted a new policy when it comes to COVID tests.

As of today, every person admitted for treatment will have to undergo a COVID 19 rapid test; they will also have to be prepared to undergo a PCR test to confirm a positive. It's just one more measure being used to safeguard the health of patients and staff at this critical master link in the healthcare chain of service.

It's a measure that the acting Director of Medical Services says was brought on due to risks posed by asymptomatic COVID patients.

Cherisse Halsall
"Now Dr. Coye in the Press release that we received this morning we got the information that from this point forward every admission to the KHMH will receive a rapid test, which that patient would have to be prepared and know that, that confirmatory PCR test and why that has become at this point."

Dr. Adrian Coye - Acting Director of Medical Services
"Ok well as we all know we have a pandemic for COVID and of course in Belize it has been an epidemic and it's on its journey to being endemic as well, so to say that it means we have a community spread many patients actually are Asymptomatic carriers and therefore when we come to manage at Karl Heusner when we have them in our midst we have the hospital divided into a COVID treating area and a non-COVID area so our aim is not to have patients with COVID enter into the non-COVID treating area and it's important to know that the diagnosis has a clinical impact as well not only for the patient because we know that patients who do have COVID may have higher risk related to cervical procedures and other things and therefore we want to be able to identify these patients with the diagnosis and of course we want to have them in appropriate areas of the hospital related to that to minimize the risk for exposure to other patients and also- exposure to our staff."

Channel 7