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Sep 15, 2021

At-Home COVID Care: Families Need Medical Guidance

With news of rising cases of COVID-19, some with underlying conditions may be on high alert, perhaps even preparing for potential hospitalization.  But there are also people who are starting to think about trying to manage COVID at home if there are no beds available.  Tonight, News Five’s Marion Ali looks into what you might need to care for a loved one outside a hospital setting, the supplies and medical guidance you would need.


 Marion Ali, Reporting

The overcrowding at the COVID units in hospitals across the country can very well force a situation where only those who are critically in need of hospitalization will end up being admitted to ward. All indications, based on the number of new infections and daily admittances to the COVID wards, are that families who can manage their loved one’s oxygen supply in the home setting, may be expected to do so.  But if that scenario ever becomes reality, it will need to be carried out with strict medical guidance.


Shanna Pott

Dr. Shanna Pott, Medical Practitioner, Belize Healthcare Partners Ltd.

“We don’t want to send across the wrong message when it comes to patients who stay at home who tested positive for COVID. So with that being said, the general idea is that anybody who is symptomatic they need to be evaluated by a medical professional before that decision is made. And based on that evaluation, not necessarily does that patient need to be hospitalized but there are different treatment regimen that can be administered to these patients and if oxygen is needed along with those treatment and the patient can afford to have that at home and receive that at home, then of course.”


Dr. Shanna Pott is a medical practitioner at Belize Healthcare Partners Ltd., with special emphasis on COVID cases. She explains that if the overcrowding necessitates home care, the prescription from doctor to patient will no doubt be thorough, just like it is now with other forms of home treatment.


Dr. Shanna Pott

“That prescription that is given reflects on the illness that that patient has at that time, whatever we deem is necessary for that patient to recover. So, that prescription comes with the time – how much time a day that patient needs to take that medication and things like that that they need to follow. So, yes, the prescription is very, very, very informative, as we can make it, and for them to follow how they need to take their medication at home.”


Marion Ali

“Can the prescription or the guidance also be given over the phone?”


Dr. Shanna Pott

“Yes. There have been patients who have called or even video-called for us to see and things like that.”


Quality Manager at Fabrigas Belize Limited, Leo Smith, agrees that the treatment given to patients at home has to be specific and precise because even the misuse of oxygen can create problems.


Leo Smith, Quality Manager, Fabrigas Belize Ltd.

“Oxygen can be considered a drug so if you’re administering this wrong; if you’re giving too much or too little, it can have physiological effects, so you need to know exactly how much you’ll be getting in, so that’s why the doctor’s prescription is recommended.”


But while the medical fraternity has not yet collectively moved towards that concept of treating COVID patients in need of oxygen at home, News Five visited with a colleague of ours whose father was successfully treated the same way when COVID threatened his life last November. Michelle Sutherland explained to us today what her family had to do when the public hospital had no space to accommodate a seriously ill and infected Alfonso Sutherland. She too agrees that with proper medical guidance, it can be done.


Michelle Sutherland, Successfully Treated COVID Relative

“At home we had to set up a private lee hospital in his room. We bought the oxygen tank, we bought the thing to test your pressure, test your sugar. We had to buy the one that test your oxygen and monitors your oxygen level, and we contacted the doctor that had attended to him at the private institution, and he told us basically “unu have to monitor this man by unuself.” So he gave us readings; Ih seh that “if it ever reaches this point, you would have to rush him right back at the hospital. So, everyday, three times daily, we would check his oxygen, his heart, his pressure, everything. Then we would relay back that information to the doctor at the private institution and that’s how we did it.”


Marion Ali                                                                                

“Ok, so while he was on oxygen he was on medication for hypertension and diabetes as well?”


Michelle Sutherland

“Yes, so what they did at the government hospital, they gave us a medication. But when we checked with the private doctor, he said that “your dad have COVID. These won’t work.” So he gave us his own prescriptions and so I went and I bought those. It was expensive but we bought them.”


Sutherland says the life and death situation compelled them to make some common sense decisions.


Michelle Sutherland

“When we took him home, we were all scared. So, everybody from that house had to move to my house and all of us, we just separate ourselves from him, and we would go like three times a day as much as possible. We would go in the yard and we would halla for him. He would come out and say that he is okay or he needs something. But for the first few days, he couldn’t, so he would just open his window and look out at us. So yeah, we neva had none ah the PPEs, none ah that. We would basically go in with our gloves with our gloves, our masks and we would attend to him because we had to extract blood, take his oxygen, all ah that. Suh, we neva had any ah that and thankfully, none of us caught COVID. Nobody in my family caught COVID.”


The expense that COVID patients who need oxygen can be a bit steep, at least three hundred dollars, but Fabrigas is offering a discounted price on their oxygen package to help ease the burden. Meanwhile, Sutherland says that the overcrowding at the hospital was for him a cloud with a silver lining.


Michelle Sutherland

“The best part about it, everything happened for a reason. Them telling him the wards were packed and sending home was something good because nothing like family, he always say. He lived because we never gave up on him. We were always, “Dad what you want to eat?,” “Dad, what can we give you,?” “Dad…” Because at that point when you sick, your body wants certain things. It can’t take anything. And so, we were always there supporting him. And, that’s what he said, that was one of the main reason why he survived; because his family never gave up on him.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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