SMMC ER Physician Dr. Kalkidan Bekele receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in February 2021.
CAY HILL--St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has reported deaths of three COVID-19 patients in under 24 hours.
“All three patients, like the vast majority of admitted COVID-19 patients, were unvaccinated against COVID-19 and had comorbidities, rendering them high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19,” SMMC said in a press release on Thursday.
In light of this, SMMC said it is once again making an urgent and desperate plea to unvaccinated persons in the community to get vaccinated as soon as possible. SMMC is also encouraging people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, chills, headaches, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, vomiting and diarrhoea to call the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) hotline at 914 and make use of CPS’ free testing facility, now located in Hope Estate.
“Being vaccinated does not prevent you from contracting COVID-19 but it significantly lowers the risk of severe illness and spreading and adds an extra layer of protection, especially if you suffer from comorbidities,” said the release.
The hospital noted that according to an evidence review process from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, the list of comorbidities that render a person high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 includes conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart conditions such as coronary artery disease and hypertension, cancer, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), lupus and other immune-compromising diseases, kidney disease, dementia, liver disease, sickle cell disease, overweight and obesity and if you are pregnant.
The CDC goes on to state that severe illness means that a person with the aforementioned conditions may require hospitalisation, intensive care, a ventilator (which requires an induced coma and intubation, whereby a tube is inserted down the throat and into the windpipe to facilitate air entering and exiting the lungs) or may even die should they contract COVID-19.
“The recently FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approved Pfizer vaccine is available to all medically-eligible persons over the age of 12 on St. Maarten including persons who are pregnant and breastfeeding. The choice to be vaccinated is a choice one makes not only for themselves but for their loved ones and for their community.
“By choosing to be vaccinated, you actively contribute to keeping hospital staff and beds available for COVID and non-COVID patients who are in severe need of hospital care, you play a part in mitigating the long-term effects that halting hospital services can have on the health of the people in the community and you keep yourself and your loved ones safe and in good health.
“We are urgently asking everyone to make the choice to get vaccinated as it has been scientifically proven that vaccinations save lives”, said Dr. Felix Holiday, SMMC’s Medical Director and Chairman of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT).
SMMC extends their condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the 54 persons who have lost their lives since the start of the pandemic.