Phyathai Hospital Group clarifies its preparedness to fight COVID-19
published : 27 Mar 2020 at 10:31
Given the current novel coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of people are understandably deeply concerned about becoming infected while others are worried that they might already be infected.
It seems that this virus is not at all like a bout of the usual seasonal flu. Rather, it is more life-threatening and is even causing a relatively small percentage of deaths among those who become sick with the virus.
In a recent telephone interview with the Bangkok Post, in order to maintain social distancing, Dr Suraphol Losiriwat, Phyathai 3 Hospital Executive Director, stressed that the hospital is responding well to the epidemic having made the necessary adjustments in terms of service provision and workflow management.
“In preparing to be able to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, safety is of course our top priority,” he emphasised.
“We have to make absolutely sure that patients who are infected and come to receive treatment don’t spread the virus to anyone else at the hospital. Moreover, we stress to all our staff, not just doctors and nurses, that they must be vigilant at all times and take all necessary precautions to avoid becoming infected on duty.”
Of course, even before COVID-19 meticulous precautions were taken to avoid contamination and these apply at every stage of the process, from reception of each patient to diagnosis and consultation with a doctor to payment and collection of prescribed medications and leaving the hospital. However, a new procedure introduced as an extra precaution against the virus is the establishment of a special admissions screening protocol that splits patients into three groups.
“The first group is high-risk patients,” Dr Suraphol explained. “These patients include those who have recently visited another country, a pub or bar in high-risk areas, or who are implicated in infamous boxing stadium contamination incident and so on.”
“Patients in this group are escorted to an outdoor area of the building specially prepared to deal with patients with high likelihood of having contracted the virus.”
“Then there is the medium-risk group, including people with typical flu symptoms and those with mild coughs. Though these patients are not high risk, our staff are on alert to be extra vigilant and take protective precautions.”
“As for the third group, these are low-risk patients whose symptoms indicate other medical conditions not related to COVID-19, say a simple stomach ache.”
The Executive Director highlighted that staff dealing with each risk group deploys different safety strategies.
“Wearing a surgical mask is sufficient for staff dealing with the medium- and low-risk categories but those caring for the high-risk group have to wear PPE suits which make them look like astronauts. A mask, gown, gloves, goggles and other protective equipment are used to avoid any exposure to or contamination from the coronavirus. They are highly protected to avoid the virus spreading beyond the patients themselves.”
Another way Phyathai Hospital has prepared to maintain safety in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic is to set up a special laboratory to perform tests for the virus. The laboratory is separated from other areas by a negative pressure room that prevents contamination between the laboratory and the rest of the hospital.
“It is understandable that people are worried about visiting a hospital because, after all, we are dealing with sick people, but you can be assured that we take every precaution to prevent the virus spreading. You can also be assured that you will not get infected here.”
Dr Suraphol also stressed the importance of social distancing, not only at the hospital but everywhere, to stop the spread of the virus.
“Like everyone, our hospital staff are required to keep at least a one metre gap between others. The same goes for patients. Seating for patients waiting to see a doctor is spaced and marked at least one metre apart. Same for patients waiting to collect medications from our pharmacy. Where possible the separation distance is extended to two metres. When staff take a break for lunch, for example, they have to raise their voices to be able to talk with each other because they are seated so far apart.”
“So you see, we are taking COVID-19 very seriously indeed and doing everything in our power to keep everyone safe or at least prevent further transmission.”
“The novel coronavirus is easily transmitted and far more contagious than ordinary flu. We want to verify that everyone who visits our hospital will not get infected and they will be safe.”
“After all, we have to protect ourselves, too. If just three or four members of our staff got infected, we would not be able to operate.”
It was easier to cope with SARS and MERS, he said.
“Because the symptoms of those diseases were so obvious and severe, it was easier and more effective to quarantine and contain. COVID-19 is nothing like that. In most cases, at least in the beginning, it doesn’t make infected people seriously ill. You can’t tell if someone is infected simply by examining their face so that’s why we have to take the extreme precautions we do.”
Meanwhile, Phyathai Hospital is equipped with powerful air purifier respirators (PAPR) that medical staff wear to breathe oxygen while treating COVID-19 patients. Moreover, negative isolation chambers prevent spread from treatment areas.
Especially for the elderly who cannot risk going outside, Phyathai Hospital offers an online clinic service, doctor consultant , sends medical staff to their residence for blood test and diagnosis purposes, and also delivers any prescribed medicines. Another option provided by the hospital is The Drive Thru Test, which is convenient, quick and easy.
To learn more about Phyathai Hospital chain services in the time of COVID-19, please visit www.phyathai.com or call 1772.