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Al-Ahli Hospital forms COVID-19 taskforce to implement strategic measures and limit the spread of pandemic

As the world struggles today to meet the challenges arising out of the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Al-Ahli Hospital has taken several strategical measures to ensure the safety of its guests and staff.  Several precautionary measures complying with the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) are in place to curb the spread of the COVID 19 virus in the community.

As part of the Al-Ahli Hospital’s heightened infection control measures, in response to limit the spread of COVID-19, a committee has been formed to implement strategical measures.  

A stricter visitor restrictions are in place at the hospital. Before entering the clinical areas, all guests/caregivers and staff will undergo temperature screening and complete a declaration form on their current health status, recent travel and recent contact with COVID-19 patients.

 “At Al-Ahli Hospital we strictly follow the guidelines of WHO and MoPH to curb the spread of COVID-19. All measures are in place to protect the guests and our staff in every possible way. We have implemented some strategies to respond to the crisis and we have been quite rapid in terms implementing,” said Dr. Abdulazim Abdul Wahab Hussain, Medical Director of Al-Ahli Hospital.

“This is contributing to prevent the disease, limit its spread and identify those who might show some of its symptoms quickly and effectively.

“From the very beginning of the spread of the COVID 19, we have establish an initial screening, so that everyone come in to the hospital is screened on entry, using WHO criteria. Also questions asked to identify risk factors fever, signs and symptoms of COVID-19, travel history and contact with the suspected cases. Based on those assessments we fast tract the guests to the relevant department,” he added.  

He also said that Al-Ahli Hospital has designated an area on the third floor of the hospital to care people with respiratory illnesses as they are in a risk of developing COVID-19.  “If we are in doubt about any patient we call the Communicable Disease Centre for further directions,” said Dr Hussain.

In addition he said that Al-Ahli Hospital has taken other preventive measures such as cancelling meetings, maintaining social distance, taking measure to keep the hospital premises  infection free and limiting the cafeteria service to take away only. 

As part of its efforts Al-Ahli Hospital has formed a COVID-19 taskforce compromising experts from across the entire hospital. “From the first day of the announcement of the disease, the hospital immediately created a task force to handle all measures related to the COVID-19 disease. We implemented the appropriate measures to protect our staff and guests and prevent the disease from spreading around the hospital, we trained our staff to diagnose the symptoms of the disease and we implemented the necessary managerial measures to keep the hospital running smoothly. The taskforce held daily meetings to stay up to date with the developments of the disease both in Qatar and around the world, and to ensure that our measures are both safe and effective in keeping everyone safe while continuing to operate all aspects of the hospital.” said Dr Khalid Al-Fakhri, head of the COVID-19 task force committee in Al-Ahli hospital. 

He also said that the hospital has taken the necessary steps to ensure that all essential medical supplies are available. “ We are working very closely with our suppliers to obtain all the necessary medical supplies, PPE & equipments that is needed at the moment and what we anticipate the hospital will need in the future,” said Dr Al-Fakhri.

Dr Al-Fakhri, who is the Clinical Director and Consultant Surgeon at the Emergency Department at Al-Ahli Hospital, emphasised that the staff has been trained well and educated on how to deal with the present situation and handle guests. “In the ER we immediately implemented the regulations under the guidelines of the Communicable Disease Center and the MoPH for fast track triaging at all entrances of the hospital, we’ve implemented crowd regulation measures that apply to both guests and our staff, who are checked daily. Any suspected case will be taken to the ER and all these areas are well insulated from the rest of the hospital,” he said 

“If we find any guests showing symptoms of COVID-19, first we keep the guest in isolation at a negative pressure room. Then we contact the CDC and get their recommendation on whether we should transfer the patient to the CDC or any of the hospitals across Hamad Medical Corporation. If the CDC decides the person is not a suspected case, we treat the guest at the hospital” he said. 

Dr Al-Fakhri also highlighted that certain non-emergency surgeries have been postponed at Al-Ahli Hospital in-line with the directives given by the MoPH. Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.

Dr Mohammad Samer Hamwy, Pediatric consultant at Al-Ahli Hospital said, “We have limited knowledge about COVID-19, because it is a new virus. All we know is what we read in media and the literature we get from MoPH and WHO. But we have good idea of what’s going on.”

“The percentage of kids getting sick is much lesser than the adults, and the percentage of kids getting sick and need to go to intensive care is much less, and the death of children below the age of ten is almost zero,” he added. 

Dr Hamwy also advice parents to keep children indoors, especially if they live in compounds and avoid taking children to hypermarkets. “When children go out and play they tend to touch many things and carry the virus.  They might not show any symptoms of COVID-19 but might have the infection. They can be carry the virus and spread to others,” he said.

Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. But it is not currently known if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result.

“COVID-19 is a new disease, and every day the guidelines keep changing,” said Dr Mazen Bishtawi, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist Head of Department at Al-Ahli Hospital.

“Pregnant women should be considered as vulnerable like elderly. If a pregnant woman get respiratory infection in the last three months of the pregnancy, it can cause them difficulties.

“With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses,” he said
Dr Bishtawi also said that although until now there is no evidence that COVID-19 would make a direct impact on the child, there is a possibility of a premature delivery of the baby in case the pregnant mother gets infected with the virus. 

Speaking about the antenatal clinics, he said that pregnant women seeking services at the Al-Ahli Hospital are advised to follow their appointments.

“Pregnant women need to get the essential consultations and scanning done. The healthcare provider of each pregnant women will decide how to conduct the clinics. At Al-Ahli Hospital we encourage pregnant women to attend their antenatal clinic appointments, but we strongly advice to follow all preventive measures,” Dr Bishtawi.

He also said that though elective surgeries have been stopped at private hospitals, in case of pregnant women it will be considered as exceptional. “You can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by covering your cough (using your elbow is a good technique), avoid people who are sick and clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer,” said Dr Bishtawi.

Al-Ahli Hospital has also ensured that their staff are trained, equipped and capable of practices needed to, prevent the spread of respiratory diseases including COVID-19 within the facility and promptly identify and isolate patients with possible COVID-19 and inform the correct facility staff and public health authorities.

David T. Miller, Director Safety and Quality at Ahli Hospital said, “We are very confident of having adequate support for the demand to provide safe care for the guests and give a safe environment for the staff.” 

“Education and awareness among the staff is very important, especially in this situation where there is so much information and misinformation. We ensure to provide credible information for the staff. It is important to focus on bodies providing information and guidance, for us the WHO and MoPH are the primary source of good quality appropriate information,” said Miller.  

Healthcare personnel are on the front lines of caring for patients with confirmed or possible infection with COVID-19 and therefore have an increased risk of exposure to this virus.

“As frontlines of healthcare we have taken special attention to nurses. We have implemented restricted policies and guidelines on how to deal with out-patients and in patients. We educate the nurses and do close monitoring of their work and activities to ensure that they are safe,” said Claudine El Araybi, Director of Nursing, at Al-Ahli Hospital.

“We update the nurses on everything for example the method of giving CPR in case of emergency has changed with the spread of COVID 19. We keep the nurses informed on every new information and preventive practice,” she added.

She also emphasized that adequate mental support is given to the staff as everyone is under a panic situation.

There’s currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. 

You can protect yourself and help prevent spreading the virus to others if you: Do wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze, Avoid close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell, Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell and Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean.

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