Dr. Ahmed Al Mohammed, Acting Chairman of Hamad Medical Corporation's (HMC) Intensive Care Units (ICU) says a key component of Qatar's strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic has involved re-purposing existing resources and facilities and redeploying manpower from other parts of the healthcare system as part of a strategy to rapidly expand critical care and ICU capacity.
"At the very start of the outbreak in Qatar, HMC put together a proactive plan to significantly expand hospital capacity. The plan ensured we had the resources in place to respond to COVID-19 cases while also continuing to deliver essential services in a way that protected both patients and healthcare staff," said Dr. Al Mohammed, who is also Acting Medical Director of Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital (HMGH).
"Responding effectively to the COVID-19 crisis was, and is, essential, but it is also essential that we continued to provide core healthcare services. We placed a lot of focus on keeping vulnerable patients out of the hospital. This not only helped protect them from the risk of acquiring the coronavirus but it also helped ease the burden on some of our regular services which in turn allowed us to free up hospital beds and create additional capacity, should it be required to care for severely ill COVID-19 patients," added Dr. Al Mohammed.
The re-purposing of existing resources and facilities has seen over 2,900 new hospital beds, including 700 new ICU beds, being made available and five facilities, including two newly opened hospitals in Mesaieed and Ras Laffan, being designated as dedicated COVID-19 treatment facilities. To date, HMC's Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital, which was the first facility in the country to be designated as a dedicated COVID-19 treatment center, has cared for the bulk of COVID-19 patients who have required ICU care.
"To date, our ICUs have cared for around 300 COVID-19 patients. We have created and implemented a strategy that is allowing us to ensure the right care is available at the right time and place," said Dr. Al Mohammed.
Dr. Al Mohammed says the decision to dedicate hospitals as COVID-19 treatment facilities has enabled HMC to better care for all its patients. He says that while there is sufficient hospital capacity to care for COVID-19 patients, it is essential the public continues working together to help curb the spread of the virus.
"By designating Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital, The Cuban Hospital, the Communicable Disease Center, Mesaieed Hospital, and Ras Laffan Hospital as dedicated COVID-19 treatment facilities we can keep the majority of coronavirus patients in a small number of locations. This ensures there is dedicated, specially trained staff and equipment available to these patients while also helping to ensure patients who require non-COVID-19 care can access that care more safely in a non-COVID-19 hospital or clinic," said Dr. Al Mohammed.
"Qatar has sufficient healthcare facilities and staff to cope with the current number of COVID-19 patients who require intensive treatment and advanced respiratory support, and we are prepared if the number of patients rises. COVID-19 patients in Qatar receive world-class care from experienced, highly qualified medical, nursing, and allied healthcare professionals but this is not an excuse for people to become complacent or worse to act recklessly or thoughtlessly. We must all continue working together to stop the spread of this virus and to ensure that our most vulnerable members of society are protected. I cannot stress enough the importance of adhering to infection prevention measures, which include social distancing," added Dr. Al Mohammed.
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