In the face of so much unerving news about the spread of Covid-19, our health and the health of our loved ones is what matters most.
And while most people are doing their best to avoid the hospital during the pandemic, emergency medical situations still happen. One thing you should not do is put off important healthcare.
A resounding yes
We know you probably have questions about getting care right now: Is it safe to go to a hospital? Can I get Covid-19 at the doctor’s office? What if I need care for something that isn’t Covid-19? If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to seek medical care at a hospital or clinic during the coronavirus pandemic, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
As we’ve learned more about the coronavirus and how it spreads, many hospitals in the UAE are now Covid-free and have implemented several new practices to help protect you so you can continue to get safe, top-quality care.
To be declared Covid-free the hospitals had to face a few challenges, explains Dr Nabil Debouni, Group Medical Director, VPS Healthcare. The hospital had to first continue its commitment to patients already admitted for the disease and treat them until they became Covid-free. “Furthermore, the Health Authority has dedicated few hospitals for these patients xclusively and accordingly very few patients were transferred to these hospitals,” he says. “The next challenge was the extensive fumigation and disinfection that was undertaken across all departments to ensure that the hospital is safe to accept non-Covid patients. Lastly, we had to convince the public that our hospitals are safe.”
Procedures in place
What is the procedure to declare hospitals Covid-free? “All Abu Dhabi hospitals were mandated to enter all their Covid patients on a single digital platform for close monitoring by the Health Authority,” says Dr Debouni. “Once our data showed zero Covid patients on this platform, we announced us as Covid-free.”
Fever, chills, body aches, and cough. All the symptoms seem the same for a cold, the flu, seasonal allergies, and coronavirus, also known as Covid-19. How would a patient know the difference? “We treat all patients coming to our hospital regardless,” says Dr Bebouni. “If we suspect a new case of Covid, we have created a special pathway for immediate isolation, diagnosis and referral to Covid-dedicated hospitals.”
As per Department of Health directives, the Ahalia Hospital, Mussafah, Abu Dhabi, runs a separate fever clinic that is isolated from the rest of the hospital, where any patient with fever is consulted with a dedicated lab, radiology, ECG services and a Covid swab area. “In case a patient tests positive, he or she is referred for home quarantine or to specialised field hospitals,” says Dr Ashiq Zindha Basheer Ahamed, Medical Director, Ahalia Hospital, Mussafah, Abu Dhabi. “No Covid positive patients are admitted at Ahalia Mussafah. In the hospital we maintain social distancing, use of facemasks, gloves, conducting regular disinfection and hand washing to ensure our patients and staff are safe.”
Hospitals have also adjusted standard approaches for delivering healthcare services so that they minimise risk to patients and healthcare personnel.“We provide tele-consultation,” says Dr Debouni. “A large number of our patients are already using this approach. We also do home delivery of medications for patients with chronic medical conditions requiring refill prescriptions. Our homecare teams conduct home visits. We also provide a “drive-through” paediatric clinic where the child is examined and treated in the parent’s car to avoid infection.”
To ensure that patients and staff are safe from any Covid patients coming into the facilities, hospitals had to put some stringent measures in place. Ahalia Hospital, Mussafah, Abu Dhabi has strengthened the pre-triaging (screening at point of entry) with specific screening tools to pick all possible cases at the entrance itself and segregate all such cases to a designated clinic, which is physically separated from other functional areas of the hospital. Thermal cameras will catch patients with elevated temperature. “All patients undergoing surgical procedures, delivery, as well as all in-patients will undergo routine screening prior to the treatment,” says Dr Ahamed. “All staff go through frequent Covid screening to make sure no one is at risk within the facility. Visitors need to show recent negative Covid reports before entering the facility or being allowed to see patients.”