Samaritan’s Purse Responds to Latest COVID-19 Outbreak in the Bahamas

August 2, 2021 • Bahamas
Samaritan's Purse is adding capacity and supplies to the Emergency Field Hospital in Nassau to help treat COVID-19 patients following a recent surge.
Samaritan's Purse is increasing the capacity of Princess Margaret Hospital, enabling the facility to treat more COVID-19 patients following a recent surge.

Our Disaster Assistance Response Team helped to increase patient capacity at Princess Margaret Hospital on Nassau.

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Samaritan’s Purse recently rushed tents and a team of relief specialists to the Bahamas to increase capacity for the COVID-19 care unit at Princess Margaret Hospital. The country has seen a steady increase in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks, with the surge largely reported in Nassau where we previously established and ran an Emergency Field Hospital immediately adjacent to Princess Margaret’s facilities.

We are resupplying and adding structures to our COVID-19 care unit at Princess Margaret Hospital in the Bahamas.

We are resupplying and adding structures to the COVID-19 care unit on the property of Princess Margaret Hospital in the Bahamas.

Our teams handed that 28-bed field unit over to the hospital in November 2020, and it has continued to successfully function as a COVID-19 unit since then. However, with the spike of COVID-19 cases, the unit reached its maximum capacity, thus additional patient bed space and equipment were desperately needed.

“We used the first two patient tents continuously. But in this third wave, all three [tents] are constantly full,” said Mary Lightbourne-Walker, the hospital administrator. “People are waiting for beds.”

The Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) deployed on July 29 to deliver supplies, set up equipment, and increase bed capacity—by 18—at the onsite COVID-19 facility.

Mary said that having Samaritan’s Purse return to the Bahamas to assist their hospital once again is “priceless.”

“You can’t put a value on it. It’s so critical for the entire country. We truly appreciate Samaritan’s Purse.”

Returning to the Battle

Mary never expected that Samaritan’s Purse would return to the Bahamas in response to COVID-19. She had no idea that the country and its main hospital would be battling yet another deadly outbreak only a few months after thinking they had survived the worst of the pandemic.

Mary Lightbourne-Walker, the Princess Margaret Hospital administrator, says there's a constant waiting list for beds.

Mary Lightbourne-Walker, the Princess Margaret Hospital administrator, says the hospital can now accommodate 18 more patient beds thanks to Samaritans’ Purse.

“There’s nothing easy about it; nothing easy at all,” she said. “COVID seems to be nondiscriminatory of anybody or any circumstance.”

For Mary, it’s especially heartbreaking to see a dramatic influx of patients at Princess Margaret Hospital because she has cared so deeply for the Bahamian people for such a long time. She began working at the hospital at age 17 and has never left.

“I’m invested here. I’m planted here for a reason, and I’ve been obedient.”

Mary spent a number of years working as an intensive care nurse, seeing patients die and the grief that families endured. She said the coronavirus is particularly devastating because family and friends cannot be with their loved ones while they’re hospitalized.

Resupply of the COVID-19 unit includes newly-arrived hospital beds.

The existing facility had reached its capacity before our DART returned with new beds and tents.

Yet, the staff of Princess Margaret Hospital is determined to support and encourage their patients.

“Having this virus is frustrating, and they are alone inside the tent, with no relatives. We’re trying to be their relatives, be their friend, be their nurse,” said nurse Bonifacio Hernandez.

Bonifacio worked last year in the COVID-19 wards at Princess Margaret Hospital and he continues to help those in desperate need.

“This is difficult, but we’re trying to do our best. It’s hard to see the patients suffering.”

‘I’m Trusting in God’

Violet is among the many patients who have received care in the patient wards previously set up by Samaritan’s Purse. Violet is from the Abaco Islands and recently came to Princess Margaret Hospital for hip surgery, but upon arrival, tested positive for the coronavirus and was placed in the COVID-19 unit for a two-week quarantine.

Violet is among the many patients who have recently received care in the patient wards previously set up by Samaritan’s Purse. Violet is from the Abaco Islands.

Violet is among the many patients who have recently received care in the patient wards previously set up by Samaritan’s Purse.

“It’s really hard being away from my family. Sometimes I break down and cry,” she said as tears formed in the corner of her eyes. “You feel so lonely, and I’m not from Nassau.”

But Violet is not giving in to discouragement. “I’m trusting in God. I have my hope and faith in Him. He cannot fail.”

Violet said she cannot wait to return home, see her children and her granddaughter, and help her husband with the seafood stand they set up near their home. But until then, she knows her hope is secure.

“My faith is anchored in Jesus. No matter what may come, I’m going to hold onto God. If He is for you, who can be against you?”

During this time of waiting, uncertainty, and loneliness, Violet continues clinging to one of her favorite verses: “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10).

Obedience All the Time

After deploying last year to the Bahamas with Samaritan’s Purse, paramedic Mark Randolph decided to return with this summer’s DART as well.

Our team is preparing a tent for construction and for air conditioning and electricity.

Our team is preparing a tent for construction and for air conditioning and electricity. This is the second COVID-19 response for Mark Randolph, left, to the island nation.

“I did all my night shifts right over there,” he said, pointing at two of the older tents. “I got to know people and made a few friends among the patients. I got to pray with people.”

Mark spent a lot of time listening and talking with his patients. “Having someone listen to them opens other doors of opportunity [for the Gospel],” he said.

Mark has served on the DART for other Samaritan’s Purse deployments, including the Emergency Field Hospital outside of Mosul, Iraq, and the Ebola Treatment Center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“I decided years ago that I was committed to disaster relief, and you never know where the disaster is going to be.”

Mark also served with Samaritan’s Purse during the COVID-19 deployments to Italy and Lenoir, North Carolina. Despite the fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus—and potential risk to his own health—Mark didn’t even have to think twice when he got the phone call asking if he would go back to the Bahamas.

“I have no hesitation. If I’m called to do something, I’m going to go, no ifs, ands, or buts.”

Note: Samaritan’s Purse is not providing clinical care on this latest deployment.

Samaritan's Purse is reopening the Emergency Field Hospital in Nassau to help treat COVID-19.

Samaritan’s Purse is expanding capacity for Nassau’s Princess Margaret Hospital in order to address the latest COVID-19 surge.

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