December 7, 2021

Cayman: Response from Ministry re outbreak of Covid-19 at Pines Retirement Home

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Dr.Samuel Williams-Rodriguez – screenshot

The Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development was notified last night, Friday 19 November, of a number of COVID-19 positive cases among residents of the Pines Retirement Home. The Ministry will continue to provide support and assistance to the Home as it continues to follow its COVID-19 mitigation plan.

Beginning in March 2020, the Cayman Islands successfully used a combination of border closure, widespread PCR testing, mandatory quarantine, and vaccination to provide a much needed buffer against the virus. This foresight and strategy also afforded the opportunity for Government and the medical establishment to learn and apply best practices and recommendations by international bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization, as well as Public Health England.

Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, Medical Officer of Health, explained that Public Health is actively involved in assisting to ensure the health and safety of residents and staff of the Pines Retirement Home, saying:

“As the Cayman Islands experiences community spread of Covid-19, we continue to appeal to the public that vaccination offers the best defense against Covid-19. A significant proportion of our elderly are vaccinated and they should avail of a booster vaccine if they have not already.

“Fortunately, the cases discovered through routine testing at the Pines Retirement Home have been identified at an early stage, and Public Health will work with the Home and its nursing staff, the Health Services Authority, and other medical practitioners if required, to apply global best practices in mitigating further spread of the virus. The Cayman Islands is fortunate to have the world’s best technology and medicine available to proactively treat these or other Covid-19 patients.”

Globally, the use of convenient, fast and reliable lateral flow tests for Covid-19 has been a significant aid in the daily management of institutional establishments such as healthcare facilities and schools.

The Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development recently procured a significant number of lateral flow tests to be used in conjunction with supporting policy and protocols in Cayman Islands’ residential care homes, which care for elderly, disabled and special needs patients in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac under the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

This morning, the Ministry delivered 1,000 tests to the Pines Retirement Home.

Lynda Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of the Pines Retirement Home, stated:

“To protect all of our residents and staff, and aid in our continuity of operations, the Pines Retirement Home will adopt a lateral flow testing regime that is based on robust evidence and has been utilised successfully in other countries including the United Kingdom. We are grateful to the Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development for providing these tests this morning. Both residents and staff will adopt a more rigorous testing regime, in addition to following other procedures and protocols based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Public Health, and the Health Services Authority. Currently we have taken the precautionary measure of preventing any visitors until further notice.”

Paulinda Mendoza-Williams, director of DCFS, noted that in October the residential care homes under the management of DCFS in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac were provided with lateral flow tests to be utilised with an accompanying testing protocol. She said:

“Nearly two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, widespread vaccination has provided our crucial first line of defense and offers vital protection for our whole community. Given the reality of community spread of Covid-19, the next line of defense is the proactive use of lateral flow tests.

“In combination with other protocols and procedures, the use of a lateral flow testing regime in Cayman’s residential care homes will aid us greatly in preventing outbreaks and protecting those who are most susceptible to the deadly virus. We are entrusted with the care of residents of the Cayman Islands’ care homes include the elderly, disabled and those with special needs. As such, we must do all we can to prevent a repeat of the tragic scenes of 2020 when Covid-19 ran uncontrollably through residential care homes around the world.”

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