After a recent deployment to Grenada, DrPH Professor Dr. E. Benjamín Puertas shared his lessons learned during COVID-19 through two case studies.
Working with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the specialized international health agency for the Americas, Dr. Puertas and his team reviewed the progress in implementation of Grenada’s national COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. They assessed hospital readiness for COVID-19 response; trained health care professionals on COVID-19 related surveillance, infection prevention control (IPC) and case management; and provided support to strengthen human resources for health staffing, mobility and scaling.
The team arrived the same day the Ministry of Health publicly announced the detection of the first COVID-19 case on the island.
The PAHO deployment team trained approximately 80 health care workers through face-to-face and virtual training in IPC and personal protective equipment (PPE) use. The training included practical demonstration on donning and duffing.
The Grenada Ministry of Health director of hospital services told the PAHO team that she was having issues with auxiliary staff cleaning the isolation unit, since they refused to enter the area for fear of getting infected with the coronavirus. The nurses who participated in the training took the initiative to do the cleaning themselves, since they felt assured that by following the protective measures the risk was minimal. This support and solidarity among health care workers allowed proper and continual functioning of an essential unit for COVID-19 response.
Additionally, Dr. Puertas and his team worked with Grenada’s chief nursing officer to assess the risk of nurses from a country with a COVID-19 outbreak joining the ranks of local nurses. None of the nurses presented any signs or symptoms.
The PAHO team recommended applying World Health Organization’s assessment of risk exposure for health workers in health facilities and presented the main components to health authorities. The day after, the country applied the assessment to the nurses and found that the risk of exposure was either minimal or non-existent. The nurses were deployed to their units the same day.
These simple measures avoided decisions that affected the availability of much needed health care workers. The PAHO team also recommended national protocols for management of exposed health care workers are required.
You can learn more about Dr. Puertas’ and the PAHO team’s work on their COVID-19 Case Study page.