Combating coronavirus: Hospitals take Covid-19 treatment beyond recovery

A free of cost rehabilitation programme has also been launched in Ras Al Khaimah for Covid-19 patients

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Nurses wearing protective equipment speak while testing patients, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Cleveland Clinic hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, April 20, 2020.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Nurses wearing protective equipment speak while testing patients, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Cleveland Clinic hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, April 20, 2020.

REUTERS/Christopher Pike

UAE - Quick diagnosis and supportive care are some of the factors that have helped the UAE see a steady rise in the number of Covid-19 recovery cases, reaching over 90 per cent.

However, some hospitals in the country are taking the Covid-19 treatment beyond recovery from the virus with assistance to the patients through innovative wellness programmes, support groups and rehabilitation therapies that help them return to their normal life.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in severe cases of Covid-19, the patient is left weak and dependent on assistance of others to complete basic tasks, such as washing, dressing and walking. These patients, many of whom have spent weeks in an ICU, require intensive rehabilitation to return to their previous activities and to reduce potential long-term disability.

Rehabilitation programme

A free of cost rehabilitation programme has been launched in Ras Al Khaimah for Covid-19 patients. The first of its kind initiative launched by RAK Hospital aims to help patients improve their physical and mental health, which might have been compromised due to the infection. The hospital's wellness programme that comprises physician consultation, diet consultation, psychological support and physical therapy can be availed of by all residents recovered from Covid-19.

Dr Raza Siddiqui, executive director of the hospital, said: "We decided to launch the free-of-cost rehabilitation programme to enable the patients recovered from Covid-19 to return to enjoying normal life with their families."

He confirmed the programme addresses common residual Covid-19 symptoms, specifically breathlessness, starting with exercise, getting back to functional activities, mental health and post intubation symptoms such as voice weakness, eating, drinking and attention and memory deficits.

The programme includes antibodies test, consultation session, general physical examination, PFT test to determine lung capacity, diet consultation with a certified nutritionist, psychological assessment, counselling sessions, mind relaxation techniques as well as physical therapy that comprises physical fitness assessment, breathing exercises and training sessions.

Wellness clinics

In Abu Dhabi, LLH Hospital has launched wellness clinics to track the recovery of Covid-19 patients who were treated at its hospitals. At these clinics, a team of doctors conduct a complete physical and mental assessment of the patient and refer those requiring special care to specialists.

Dr Shehnas Puthiyaveettil Abu, specialist internal medicine, pulmonary diseases at LLH Abu Dhabi, said: "We are constantly tracking the status of Covid-19 patients who were treated in our hospitals and we noticed that some, who were critical, face shortness of breath, fatigue and muscle pain even now. Many people complain that they get tired of working for eight hours or extended hours, which was comfortable earlier. This is what led us to launch these wellness clinics that are seeing an overwhelming response.

Dr Shehnas added that the clinics aim to equip the recovered patients to cope up with stress and anxiety as the hospital has seen a number of young patients going through psychological turmoil after being affected by the virus. "Even after recovery, many feared of reinfection while others were bothered by the latency of the virus. This we address through boosting their morale and offering positive communication and encouragement through counselling sessions."

Patient support group

Focusing more on the psychological needs of Covid-19 patients, Dubai's Aster Hospitals also launched a support system to ensure the "holistic well-being" of Covid-19 patients.

The patient support group called 'Cosmos' aims to specifically focus on motivating patients recovering in isolation; help them deal with mental trauma, feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness through recovery sessions; and aid them in post-discharge rehabilitation through physical therapy, nutrition advice and mental health support. Cosmos, which stands for 'Circle of Strength, Master of Self', provides a platform for Covid-19 patients admitted at the hospitals to connect with each other, share their thoughts, participate in educative sessions and stay connected with their doctors, dieticians and family members through a digital application.

The initiative includes educative sessions, friendly conversations and interactive games in designated lobbies within the Covid zone ward for positive patients to come together.

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