The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has stressed that it is working along with all the health sector institutions to provide the best possible care for the elderly, taking steps to protect them from infection with the novel coronavirus, and to meet their medical and psychological needs.
National Health Strategy Lead for Healthy Ageing: Dr Hanadi Al Hamad, the Medical Director of Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Rumaillah Hospital and Qatar Rehabilitation Institute, said that “This difficult period poses a double challenge for the elderly, as they need many health services, and at the same time we work to reduce their exposure to other people and [advise them] not to leave the house without extreme necessity.”
She called on the community to closely cooperate in this regard by adhering to social distancing and continuous communication with the various services intended for the elderly when needed. Dr Hanadi Al Hamad indicated that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry has prepared the necessary pre-emptive plans to receive the senior returnees from abroad, of whom many were receiving treatment abroad, pointing that appropriate quarantine was designated for them on the basis of their health needs, as a number of them needed hospitalization to complete treatment in quarantine units under the care of an integrated medical team working on the continuation of the patient’s treatment plan, while the rest of those who are in stable condition and can depend on themselves are cared for in other quarantine places designated for the elderly in hotels.
She pointed out that the integrated medical team overseeing the treatment plan include specialised doctors, physiotherapists, career therapy specialists, nutritionists and clinical pharmacists, in addition to the nursing team. Dialysis services were also provided to patients who need them, she added. “Attention is also being paid to the psychological state of the patients and their families under the current circumstances, as the treatment teams, led by the case coordinators, are working constantly on communication and counselling with patients’ families, while the patients communicate with their families to avoid a sense of loneliness during the quarantine period,” Dr Hanadi Al Hamad explained. She further explained that at the end of the quarantine period, a comprehensive evaluation of the elderly patient is made to determine the ideal place to complete the treatment plan.
About the elderly afflicted with coronavirus in general, she said they are provided with the necessary healthcare in HMC’s hospitals, pointing that age is not the only criterion for severe complications of the disease, but rather other health conditions of the elderly and whether they suffer from chronic comorbidities should be considered. Dr Al Hamad stressed, “We attach great attention to the elderly care and take many precautions to protect them.” She pointed to a number of promising cases, referring to the recovery of an 85-year-old female patient from coronavirus. Other patients are recovering successively, she added.
Dr Al Hamad explained that since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the elderly have been the focus of the health sector in order to protect them from the infection and to continue providing the health care services they need, as many services have been activated and created, most notably the participation of a team of specialised doctors in answering the inquiries of the elderly through the hotline 16,000.
This is in addition to launching a telephone service in the Geriatrics and Extended Care Department of HMC to reassure those over 60 years of age, meet their medical needs and support them psychologically.
Medical consultations are also provided through video calls to assess the medical condition of the elderly. Physiotherapy and remote rehabilitation sessions were introduced. The day-care unit for the elderly was also opened on 12th April 2020, to receive the elderly who need assessment or simple procedures that do not need going to the emergency room, following prior arrangement of the patient’s visit. Cooperation has been made with the World Health Organization (WHO) to prepare a guide for dealing with patients in long-term care and to activate all necessary measures to protect them, starting with reduced visits, physical distancing and infection control measures, while maintaining contact with families and informing them about the patients’ condition. MOPH launched a page on its website, through which it provides the public with the latest developments related to coronavirus and information on how to protect themselves and others from this virus.
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