TALLINN – In connection with the declared healthcare emergency situation, the North Estonia Medical Center is limiting planned treatment because, as a higher stage hospital, it must prepare for the increasing spread of coronavirus.
The hospital must ensure readiness to receive coronavirus-infected patients and those in need of intensive care from across Estonia. At the proposal of the Health Board, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik declared the current situation a healthcare emergency and raised the preparedness level of the healthcare system to 2.
"This means that hospitals must restrict or discontinue scheduled treatment in order to be prepared for changes caused by the emergency situation," Agris Peedu, chairman of the management board of the North Estonia Medical Center, said. "Our infection control steering group has been dealing with preparations for limiting scheduled work for the past several days," he added.
According to Peedu, the hospital must foremost ensure time-critical assistance of patients in need of treatment, effective containment of the virus at the hospital and, of course, patient and staff safety.
From Tuesday until the end of the emergency situation, planned work at in-patient units, day surgery unit and day treatment unit and out-patient appointments at the polyclinics of the North Estonia Medical Center will be limited. Restriction may also include the reasonably justified delay of scheduled appointments, examinations, or operations, or carrying out appointments remotely. In some specialties, restrictions may be applied already as of Monday.
"Patients will be contacted by the attending physician, who will decide how to proceed with the individual patient. People will be contacted by telephone at least one day prior to their scheduled visit to the North Estonia Medical Center," Helis Pokker, medical director of the North Estonia Medical Center, said, adding that patients are already being contacted, while patients in risk groups are currently the priority for their own safety.
"We are glad about the support and understanding of the patients," Pokker said. "We are reviewing the medical history of each person separately and finding the best possible solution for them," she added.
For a hospital that services over 10,000 patients every month, the necessary reorganization requires time and the contribution of many employees.
Pokker added that, in the event that a patient is not contacted prior to the day of their appointment, the patient should not come to the hospital but should write an e-mail or call the hospital instead.
The hospital is continuing emergency medical treatment as well as the planned treatment of conditions that pose a serious risk to health and life.
In order to ensure the safety of patients and medical staff, it is still forbidden to visit patients pursuant to an order issued by the government.
A person infected with coronavirus or a person who shows signs of the disease -- cough, congestion, fever -- should not go to an emergency room. The person must first contact their family doctor, call the family medicine hotline 1220 or the emergency number 112. The hospital is also strongly requesting that people with symptoms of milder viral disease not come to the emergency room.