The new centre
The new centre Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi has opened the first two dedicated assessment centres to cater to patients who test positive for the coronavirus.

The centres will complement the range of care and guidance provided in the emirate to people diagnosed with COVID-19. They are operated by the Ambulatory Healthcare Services (AHS) division of the emirate’s public health provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company’s (Seha).

The first of these is located in the capital, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, which also houses a 1,000-bed field hospital. This centre can accommodate 2,000 patients at a time.

A second assessment centre with a capacity of 1,500 patients is located at the Al Ain Convention Centre.

In a statement, the AHS said that the centres will “strengthen the existing COVID-19 healthcare infrastructure in Abu Dhabi by providing the community with easy and safe access to additional testing, medical assessment, and guidance at the hands of qualified medical professionals and volunteers”.

Milestone achieved

“The establishment of the new assessment centre is yet another example of the country’s drive to join efforts and share resources as we deliver on our leadership’s vision. We recently achieved the two million tests milestone as a result of the remarkable efforts and combined drive from both the healthcare industry and supporting partners, and look forward to working with them to ensure that all members of the community have access to safe and accurate testing with a clear and defined follow-through process,” said Abdullah Al Hamed, chairman at health regulator, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH).

“As we continue widespread testing across the nation in efforts to quickly identify and care for those who have contracted the virus, it is important we confirm test results in a prompt and efficient manner. The new centres aim to re-test and provide preliminary care to members of the community who test positive,” said His Excellency Salem Al Noaimi, chairman at Seha.

Essentially, the centres will function as the first stop for people who test positive for COVID-19, especially as patients are first required to undergo the test a second time to confirm any first-time positive results. To that end, each assessment centre is built with multiple passageways and assessment halls so that patients with differing complications and levels of severity don’t have to mingle with others.

Emotional impact

“There is no doubt that getting a positive result has an emotional impact. That is why we put the comfort at the forefront of our priorities. To ensure that they are able to visit the center as soon as they receive their results, we [will] operate the center every day, from 8 AM to 8 PM. We also have designated stations for senior citizens and residents, people of determination, families, and ladies [in order to maintain patient] privacy and confidentiality,” said Dr Noura Al Ghaithi, chief operations officer at AHS.

Patients who have tested positive in Abu Dhabi will receive an SMS directing them to visit one of the COVID-19 Prime Assessment Centers. During the first visit, the patient is directed to the Yellow Hall where their vital signs are checked, followed by registration in Seha’s electronic medical record system and the administration of an additional nasal swab test. All patients are then advised to go home and follow home quarantine guidelines until they receive their result by SMS, SEHA app or Al Hosn app.

On the other hand, if the medical assessment shows that a patient’s condition is unstable, the patient will be redirected to the Red Zone to undergo additional testing, including ECG, blood tests, X-ray, and CT scan. Doctors will then consult to determine whether the patient needs to be transferred to a hospital or is well enough to go home.

In case a patient’s second test result comes back as negative, he will be directed by SMS to visit the Purple Hall to be tested one more time for confirmation of his result. If the result is then positive, he will visit the Blue Hall to undergo examination and assessment, and be provided with an electronic device for home quarantine, or be transported to an isolation facility.

In addition to the assessment centres, Seha is currently operating nine new screening facilities across the UAE, as well as three field hospitals. It is also managing a dedicated WhatsApp hotline to respond to coronavirus-related queries, as well as a virtual outpatient clinic.