Due to the overwhelming demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has affected the health system. But with such a global pandemic, most resources and hospital staff have been requested to prioritize COVID testing to meet the high demands of patients.
How To Mitigate The Impact Of COVID-19 In The Health Services
Everywhere around the world, the National and sub-national public health authorities must find ways to reduce the spread of the pandemic. They can organize some healthcare settings to cater to people who haven’t received the COVID-19 immunization jab.
- They must identify specific locations that target interventions that will reduce the impact of COVID-19. That means creating the need for immunization services and dealing with the population size.
- Develop communications and educational materials for COVID-19 education and put them in all healthcare settings. These must be somewhere accessible for every patient. Such information must include COVID-19 symptoms, patient transmission, and prevention measures: infection prevention and control for patients and healthcare workers.
- Develop methods to promote access to facilities and community-based healthcare services during the COVID-19 restriction.
- Maintain adequate supplies that provide services and commodities to reduce the risk of patients’ exposure to the pandemic in all service delivery areas.
- Provide plenty of personal protective equipment (PPE). Including hand hygiene supplies (sanitizers, soap, and water). Plus, cleaning and disinfecting detergents.
- Establish staffing and adequate supplies of community isolation centers for patients with mild symptoms for recovery.
- Plan for the supplies needed and send them to essential non-COVID-19 services into provisional clinics in heavily affected areas of COVID-19.
- Provide a control plan to track service delivery outside every healthcare facility. And that must include immunization services, chronic disease, antenatal care (ANC), and Covid testing.
Modify Service Access
As health facilities become overwhelmed, they must determine the essential services to prioritize. As a result, some may get paused or referred to another facility.
- Screening patients for Covid symptoms or chance of exposure before they get to the health facility. And if possible, the facility can consider telehealth platforms and screen patients. That would save them time when they come to the health facility. They can also ask for referrals if need be.
- Prioritize COVID testing and consider using touchless temperature checks.
- Place sanitizers or hand wash soaps at the entry and exit facilities to ensure hand hygiene. Also, encourage appropriate use of PPE, and general regular cleaning, of every touch surface.
- All patients with respiratory symptoms must wear a medical mask. And everyone else must always cover their mouth, whether they are showing signs or not.
Modify Clinic Space (covid testing)
Social distance is one of the crucial COVID-19 measures for everyone worldwide.
- All patients must maintain a two-meter distance, and the facilities must create this space. Whether they’re waiting outside or inside, hallways, or at the pharmacies.
- Wherever there is not enough space for social distance, clinics must consider altering and repurposing some of their rooms. And they must designate specific facilities for COVID testing and care. And don’t forget to segregate other areas for non-COVID-19 services.
- Modify any underused spaces in the facility which have access to improved water sources. What does this include? It could be a public standpipe, rainwater collection, water supplied in a household connection, borehole well, protected spring, etc. And all these must have good ventilation, increasing the circulation of outdoor air for use as isolation areas.
- Plan separate spaces for physical distancing for assessment of acutely ill persons. And adequate space for delivery of essential non-COVID-19 services.
Modify Service Delivery
As health facilities become overwhelmed, they must determine the essential services to prioritize. As a result, some may get paused or referred to another facility. Prolong the time between appointments for healthy patients. Also, prolong the time between appointments for them.
- Use telemedicine services via phone call or video calls to screen, follow up or refill prescriptions.
- Consider staggered patient appointments to decrease the number of people in waiting areas. In addition, implement an appointment scheduling system to relieve the facility’s congestion.
- Implement fast-track services for patients with acute and chronic conditions to minimize contact with many other patients or providers. For instance, there can be ready medications; only one provider should see the patient for all services.
- Set a limit on visitors coming to see or accompanying patients in the hospital or community-based services.
- Relocate services—based on the COVID-19 cases within the community, the healthcare facility may move towards that location to serve the patients better.
- A facility with few presumable cases of COVID-19 patients can designate isolation for such patients.
So, what should they do in areas with a higher peak of COVID-19 cases? The facility should consider the following:
- To minimize the risk of exposure at the facilities. They can move non-COVID-19 services from the facility to the community spaces ( a community center, church, or a vacant school). And these are ideal places for Covid testing.
- And with a reduced number of clinics, it would be easier to cater to COVID-19 patients.
- Move services outside the facility for COVID-19 patients with mild or moderate symptoms to use community isolation centers.
- Consider and educate COVID-19 patients with mild or moderate symptoms about home-based care. Home can be a safe isolation place for those with suitable space.
- Introduce “no-contact” medicine pick-up options. That should be ideal for patients with chronic illnesses:
- Schedule drug pick-up at community pick-up points or clinic pharmacies. Adaptations can help to minimize in-person contact and the risk of exposure. Alternative means of communication may include phone calls, or video calls, SMS, or social media.
- Enforce a 3- or 6-month drug dispensing for healthy and stable patients.
- Maintain regular contact with patients, including the new one. Follow up with those at risk for loss. An excellent way to make this work is to share tasks and:
- Request staff from less busy facilities to come and assist with essential services.
- Work with the local HCW societies and Ministry of Health (MOH). And working together can help you determine the best way to do task shifting and provide essential services.
Conclusion covid testing
While the National health facility has its part to play in reducing cases of COVID-19, you too must do your part and visit the Covid testing center. Then get immunized, or isolated if found positive.