Fiona Hyman, partner at PwC Jamaica made a personal donation of 60 pulse oximeters, in total, to The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and Spanish Town Hospital in response to an urgent plea made on social media for supplies to the local COVID-19 wards.
“When I saw the post on Twitter that inferred that the wards were down to a limited number of oximeters, so much so that they had to be appealing to the public to seek help, I knew I needed to find a way to help if I could,” declared Hyman. “Access to healthcare and access to proper healthcare is a human right. And in this pandemic the need for both to coexist is even greater. For this to happen we must come together and support our doctors and nurses who often work selflessly around the clock to provide care and treatment at the risk of their own health. I am glad I was in the position to purchase 55 oximeters at the time; and when I reached out to my friends, they were able to help me round up the donation to 60.”
Hyman delivered 23 oximeters to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Spanish Town Hospital in February and handed over 37 oximeters to the emergency medicine division at UHWI on Wednesday 30 March 2022.
According to Dr Jason Ifill, consultant in the emergency medicine division at UHWI, a pulse oximeter is a small but invaluable device that is in demand not only for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, but every day use in the emergency room.
“The pulse oximeter is a small electronic device, very portable, very easy to use and manage but it actually gives us a lot of useful information for our patients,” stated Dr. Ifill. “This small device, usually attached to the patient’s finger, is used to measure the amount of oxygen in the red blood cells of the patient and the patient’s heart rate, which are two important pieces of data that we use to not only assess the patient but also to inform how we manage that patient. For example, if we need to give that patient supplementary oxygen.”
Oxygen level is considered by many to be an important sign of how well a body is working, just like a person’s blood pressure or body temperature. In fact, a normal level of oxygen is usually 95% or higher. However, patients with severe cases of COVID-19 would exhibit readings below 95% and typically require supplemental oxygen. They would also need to be monitored closely for worsening respiratory status, because some patients may progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome. A pulse oximeter then serves as a critical tool in monitoring the health of a COVID-19 positive patient.