Doha: The Ministry of Public Health has stressed that it is working along with all the health sector institutions to provide the best possible care for the elderly, and that it is stressing the measures to protect them from infection with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), 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 others and 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 bases 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.
Dr Hanadi Al Hamad
She pointed out that the integrated medical team overseeing the treatment plan include specialized doctors, physiotherapists, career therapy specialists, nutritionists and a 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.
On the elderly who were afflicted with COVID-19 in general, she explained that they were provided with the necessary health care in HMC's hospitals, pointing that aging not the only criterion for severe complications of the disease, but rather other health conditions of the elderly and whether they suffers 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 (OVID-19). Other patients are recovering successively, she added.
Dr. Hanadi 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 is the participation of a team of specialized doctors in answering the inquiries of the elderly through the hotline 16000.
This in addition to launching a telephone service in the Geriatrics and Extended Care Department of HMC to reassure the elderly 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 April 12th, 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.
And 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.
The Ministry of Public Health launched a page on its website (www.moph.gov.qa), through which it provides the public with the latest developments of COVID-19 and information on how to protect themselves and others from infection with this virus.