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Statia’s crisis manager briefs on the hospitainer unit for corona treatment

Pieter Glerum is Crisis and Disaster Manager on Statia. He is an experienced disaster response manager and expert in capacity building and disaster risk reduction.

The Hospitainer unit is an addition to Queen Beatrix Medical Centre (QBMC) on Statia and has the capacity to treat six persons at the same time under isolation. Glerum said the Hospitainer is a good example of the cooperation between the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport, which financed the project, the public entity St. Eustatius which provided the land and the infrastructure, and QBMC, which will facilitate the Hospitainer’s operation and which leased the parcel of land where the Hospitainer was installed.

The Hospitainer unit arrived on April 22, and installation concluded on May 5. After the construction, it took time to connect water, electricity, Internet and phone lines to make the building ready for use, but the terrain around the building still needs some work.

The area needs to be paved, parking spaces made, fencing installed and lighting put up. Toilet facilities will also be made, as only chemical toilet facilities are available at the moment.

The Health Ministry recruited Dr. Joep Schats and nurse Patrick Nomden to strengthen the hospital capacity and to operate the Hospitainer.

All the necessary equipment for the Hospitainer has been arranged, such as personal protective equipment, crucial medicines, instruments and oxygen, all needed for any potential COVID-19 cases.

At the moment, Schats and Nomden are training nurses from QBMC, St. Eustatius Auxiliary Home, the Public Health Department, home care and two volunteer nurses to familiarise themselves with the Hospitainer.

“Luckily, the Hospitainer is not in use now, because it is only needed for COVID-19 cases and will only be operated in the first instance by nurses from the island. In case of a severe outbreak of COVID-19, nurses will be brought in, which will be financed by the Ministry of Health,” Glerum said.

The Hospitainer is not an intensive care unit, but a specialised care unit for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. However, regardless of the Hospitainer, severely ill patients will still need to be flown out to St. Maarten for intensive-care treatment. The Hospitainer has air inlets to filter air in the rooms to isolate the rooms from each other, to prevent contamination between patients.

Persons who are infected with COVID-19, but are not ill, can stay at home if isolation is possible in their home situation. If not, these persons can also be treated in the Hospitainer, Glerum explained.

There are no active COVID-19 cases in Statia at the moment. Glerum said he hopes it will stay this way for a long time. In the meantime, it will be possible to use the Hospitainer for visiting specialists.

Glerum said it is not possible to invite the public to see the Hospitainer for themselves, but the facility’s interior will be put on view via social media.

The Daily Herald

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