National Diabetes and Endocrine Center Services amid COVID-19
National Diabetes and Endocrine Center Services amid COVID-199/4/2020
The world is encountering the escalation of Corona Virus Disease COVID-19 with deep concern, nonetheless, people with non-communicable chronic diseases including those with high blood pressure and diabetes need to take extra preventive measures to safeguard themselves.
the National Diabetes and Endocrine Center (NDEC) of the Royal Hospital has been instrumental in providing referral treatment services for pediatric and adult diabetics in addition to gestational diabetes and obesity patients, as well as providing treatment services for patients with endocrine disorders and endocrine tumors. Moreover, it provides supportive medical services such as diabetes foot treatment, health education, therapeutic nutrition and eye health follow-up services for diabetics. The center also follows up on the admitted cases referred to medical consultation or that have been referred from the center for to be admitted to the Royal Hospital Wards.
Under the current circumstances to deal with the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), Dr. Nour Al-Bousaidi, senior consultant endocrinologist and director of the center, stated that the center's medical staff are working to find innovative ways to achieve two basic objectives, namely, to ensure the continuity of the provision of treatment services to the underlying groups and to activate preventive mechanisms to ensure the safety of patients and medical staff working at the center. Several approved measures have been implemented in coordination with the relevant committees, both at the Royal Hospital and the Ministry of Health in order to achieve these aims.
Among our priorities was to provide all the medical staff at the center with the necessary information on COVID-19 and to keep them up-to-date staring from the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Al Busaidi underlined. She added that training were conducted for the staff on the fundamentals of infection control and the steps of wearing and removing personal prevention equipment. All infection protection equipment and necessary tools that may be needed by medical staff to deal with suspected or ill cases have been provided.
Dr. Ali Al-Muqbali, consultant endocrinologist at the center, explained that since the beginning of the first procedures to deal with the pandemic, the regular appointments of patients whose medical records show stability in their health condition were postponed in order to reduce the number of visitors to the center in this period, which contributes to reducing the chances of infection transmission. Dr. Al Muqbali further noted that cases requiring medical care are dealt with urgently by coordinating near and appropriate appointments for patients.
As for the patient whose appointments have been postponed, treatment were dispended for them for new periods and were communicated with to ensure collection of the medications. Patients who need medication or ran-out of medications can contact the Centre via WhatsApp on the pre-pandemic line 93900603. Patients' prescriptions will included in their medical records, enabling them or their own representative to collect the medicine from the center's pharmacy.
Najma Al Balushi, the center's in-charge nurse, said that the nursing staff responsible for diabetics education and follow-up continues to follow directly the level of sugar for patients through WhatsApp, where the patient sends daily sugar level readings according to the agreed schedule, later the diabetic health educators in coordination with doctors inform the patient about the required adjustments in the treatment plan and how to deal with any incidences that may occur at home without having to attend to the center. Two numbers were allocated, one for pediatric diabetics, which is 96190171 and another for adult diabetics on 71555261, noting that the Center is receiving inquiries on these numbers during official working hours.
The center, in coordination with the Royal Hospital, has developed procedures to identify symptoms of COVID-19 in all patients once they enter the center. They are also asked about travelling and being in contact with infected patients. In case of suspicion, the case is isolated in a special triage room assigned for this purpose resuming procedures for medical examination before taking the appropriate actions. The patient's attendant is treated as the patient in terms of checking on COVID-19 symptoms, contacts or return from abroad, where the suspected cases are dealt with according to the approved plan.
Dr. Sulaiman Al-Shuriqi, head of the training department at the center, noted that the morning lecture program has been suspended to avoid the gathering of workers in one place and thus reducing the chances of transmission. The reception of medical staff for practical training at the center has also been suspended as part of the same precautionary measures. Since the early days of the pandemic, all medical staff have been trained on the health procedures to deal with cases and on the use of infection prevention methods. Staff are constantly updated with information and procedures on how to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic as instructed by the Royal Hospital and the Ministry of Health.
He further stated that work is being carried out to produce educational and awareness materials targeting patients treated at the center to deliver important health messages related to dealing with their health problems under home isolation. The contact numbers of center’s various provided services were also posted on the RH and the MOH official accounts and social media.
At the Diabetes Foot Clinic, which receives advanced cases of diabetes, characterized by disease complications and low resistance to infections, al-Anod Al-Masrori, a specialist in foot therapy at the center, explained that as a proactive step forward reducing the chances of infection transmission, the number of patients per day in the clinic has been reduced after a careful screening of routine cases. Appointments for patients with diabetic foot complications were spaced out. The medical team is committed to wearing infection prevention equipment, sleeves, gloves, etc. while providing treatment to this group of patients, with adhering to additional procedures to clean and sterilize service beds, tools and equipment.
The center’s medical staff is working vigorously to develop additional mechanisms to deal with the new conditions imposed or will be imposed by the pandemic, and is currently accelerating the process of setting up a phone number allocated for endocrine patients in order to communicate directly with the medical team to answer their inquiries regarding the treatment plan of each patient and in order to reduce the need for the patient's presence at the center. Patients and health workers are being continuously emphasized on the necessity of social distancing and keeping safe distance. The patient who needs to dispense the drug from the pharmacy can communicate through WhatsApp to prepare the medicine for him in advance without having to wait.