Monday 24 January 2022

Steward Health Care Malta doubles PCR rapid testing capacity

Steward Health Care Malta (SHCM) has increased its COVID-19 testing capacity in the laboratory of Gozo General Hospital (GGH), through the introduction of a second rapid PCR analyser. 

The introduction of extra rapid testing capacity enables admitted patients in Gozo to be screened for COVID-19 more quickly, ensuring a faster turnaround and efficient and safer bed management. The new equipment allows the hospital to better sustain normal operational levels and allows SHCM to concentrate the focus of its activities to help the communities it serves to fight the virus. 

“Our ability to treat patients quickly and with the latest equipment has completely changed the way we serve our community. We are increasingly confident of combatting the fight against COVID-19 thanks to our increased preparedness and we are now better placed to help the local communities affected by the pandemic to get through this difficult time,” said Mr Joseph Fenech, Executive Director of the Gozo General Hospital. 

SHCM is confident that the long-term investments reflected in beds, equipment and infrastructural changes, including the second rapid PCR analyser, and practices implemented at GGH and Karin Grech Hospital (KGH) will help protect the communities they serve, especially the vulnerable. SHCM has invested directly in additional beds and equipment to combat the pandemic, including 25 ventilators and a significant oxygen reservoir in Gozo, to help save lives in the communities it serves. With the support of Steward’s international healthcare network, SHCM is working hard to increase its capacity to treat patients and improve access to its services.

Dr Nadine Delicata, President of Steward Health Care Malta said: “SHCM is working incessantly, in conjunction with Malta’s health authorities, to ensure that the public is protected and patients are treated with the highest level and quality of care possible, while safeguarding both staff and patients. We are working hand-in-hand with all stakeholders to promote the country’s vaccination programme and both Karin Grech and Gozo General Hospitals are helping in the preparation and administration of booster doses to the general public. In addition, GGH is playing a key role in rolling out the first doses for Gozitan children, aged five to eleven, as part of the national vaccination programme.”

Dr Delicata said that SHCM had been planning for this type of event and would be increasing its focus on countering the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. 

“Steward Health Care Malta is dedicated to providing quality medical services to its patients and communities, particularly in the face of major health threats like the Omicron variant. Over the last years we have increased investment in our facilities to fight COVID-19 and been working alongside our international network to bring the best treatments and care to our hospitals to counter the virus. Our systematic, proactive and dedicated approach means that we are prepared for a potential increase in coronavirus cases exactly like this,” said Dr Delicata. 

As part of a large international health care system, Steward’s experience and expertise has been of direct benefit to the communities served by SHCM. In Gozo, Steward’s international supply chain allowed SHCM to secure an unprecedented 25 ventilator units to bolster Gozo General Hospital (GGH)’s pandemic response, which also included an expansion of the hospital’s capacity by an additional 120 beds as well as a COVID-19-adapted Emergency Department. 

To protect its most vulnerable patients, in April 2020 SHCM relocated 70 elderly hospital residents to an alternative facility subject to stringent policies and procedures. This timely decision prevented transmission of COVID-19 to this vulnerable section of society; the nursing home facility at Downtown has not had a single COVID-19 death or outbreak since it was established. 

“Everyone needs to remain vigilant and observe public health measures in our efforts to reduce as much as possible the number of COVID-19 cases in our communities,” Dr Delicata concluded. 

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