Emergency Field Hospital Opens in the Bahamas to Care for COVID-19 Patients

October 23, 2020 • Bahamas

Our 28-bed unit is providing additional capacity for Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau.

Emergency Medicine

Since opening the Emergency Field Hospital, our medical team has treated more than 20 patients. We are now also focusing on clinical leadership with staff at Princess Margaret, our local partner hospital. Our team is offering training related to infection prevention and control and how to properly use personal protective equipment.

One of our patients is Barry, a construction worker used to physical labor and who felt invincible to the coronavirus. But he worried when he began experiencing body aches and nausea. Barry’s symptoms quickly worsened and he ended up in the emergency room at Princess Margaret struggling to breathe. He was then transferred to the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital.

We praise God that Barry’s health has significantly improved, and we are grateful for the medical professionals working hard to help patients like Barry recover and return home to their families.

“You treat the whole person mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You can’t just look at the physical and throw medical care toward it. You have to remember that is a human being with a family and a life,” said nurse Kelly Arroyo. “You educate, comfort, and pray with them when they want it— allowing them to know someone loves and cares for them.”

Samaritan’s Purse opened a 28-bed Emergency Field Hospital in Nassau, the Bahamas, on Oct. 19 to provide critical care to COVID-19 patients. The hospital was airlifted to the Bahamas on Oct. 15 aboard our DC-8 cargo jet along with 14 tons of medical supplies and personal protective equipment. The treatment center is set up immediately adjacent to Princess Margaret Hospital, our local medical partner.

Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, tours our facility.

Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, tours our facility.

“COVID-19 is a terrible disease, and it claims the lives of hundreds, thousands of people. The Bahamas was crying out for help,” said Elliott Tenpenny, director, Samaritan’s Purse International Health Unit. “We really count it as a privilege to come in at a point in time where a nation has a significant need and be able to care for the citizens.”

The Bahamas is experiencing a second wave of coronavirus cases, and Nassau’s Princess Margaret Hospital is overwhelmed. At the request of the Prime Minister, Samaritan’s Purse is coming alongside them to provide added capacity, medical care, and infection prevention and control training. When the Prime Minister visited the facility, he remarked that he was very impressed with the operations and thankful for the additional bed space and high-level of care patients would soon receive.

Our teams are working hard to care for patients in Jesus' Name.

Our teams are working hard to care for patients in Jesus’ Name.

Dr. Caroline Burnett Garroway, who serves as medical chief of staff at Princess Margaret Hospital, said that in her 30 years at the hospital she has never experienced anything like this. As an island nation, they are used to storms—in fact, one ward is currently closed due to recent hurricane damage—but nothing could have prepared them for this health crisis.

“With hurricanes, you know it’s coming—you build back and recover. But with COVID-19, so much is unknown. It’s wearing us down,” Dr. Garroway said.

The 420-bed facility at Princess Margaret Hospital is full. Initially, in March, when the outbreak began, they designated a small ward for coronavirus treatment and isolation. Slowly, they marked more and more spaces for COVID patients, but each ward is now holding double the number of patients initially intended. In addition to a lack of space, many of their healthcare providers have contracted the virus, and, sadly, two nurses and one doctor have died from it.

Please pray for our staff and the patients in our field hospital.

Please pray for our staff and the patients in our field hospital.

As our treatment unit received its first patients, the Samaritan’s Purse medical team donned their personal protective equipment to provide physical care while also reminding patients that God loves them and has not forgotten them. Many of our doctors and nurses served at the specialized respiratory care units we set up earlier this year in New York City and Italy, so they bring firsthand experience to this crisis.

“The struggle is real so we appreciate any help we can receive. And especially from a Christian group who knows God. We know He is the midst, and He is help and hope, so thank you again,” said Valerie Miller, principal nursing officer.

Please pray for the Samaritan’s Purse disaster assistance response team as they serve in Jesus’ Name. Pray that as they provide patient care, they will also have the opportunity to share about the eternal hope they have in Jesus Christ.

We're coming alongside local medical professionals to care for COVID-19 patients.

We’re coming alongside local medical professionals to care for COVID-19 patients.

This article originally published on Oct. 19 and has been updated through Oct. 23.

We began today receiving patients at the respiratory care unit.
Emergency Medicine Your gift will enable Samaritan’s Purse to provide life-saving medical care (including doctors, nurses, respirators, and other essential equipment) to hurting and vulnerable communities. We respond in the wake of natural and manmade disasters, as well as during outbreaks of infectious diseases. We also offer public health outreaches to prevent the spread of life-threatening illnesses. Most important, our teams bring the Gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and afraid.

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