Nervous COVID-19 patients want home care rather than hospital admission

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Nervousness over overcrowded hospitals has led to a demand for private doctors to create COVID-19 “wards” in patient’s homes, reports The Times.

Many patients refuse to go to hospital for fear of not seeing their families again. Others have been turned away because of hospitals’ lack of capacity.

Durban doctor Naseeba Kathrada started a COVID home-management team to alleviate stress on hospitals and on infected patients. “We provide support to doctors to better manage their patients at home by assisting with the oxygen concentrators, thermometers, machines to monitor blood sugar and blood pressure levels, the supply of supplements, a laboratory to conduct tests, psychologists, physiotherapists and a chiropractor,” she said. Doctors direct physiotherapists to do mainly virtual home care by helping with breathing techniques. In severe cases, patients are referred to hospital.

Claire van Staden, a nurse who works with COVID-19 patients in Durban, sees a “big demand” for home care. “People are nervous about hospital, which is understandable,” she said. “I work with a doctor who assesses the patient and makes a medical decision whether they can be treated at home or in a hospital environment.”

The report says in Johannesburg a network of doctors and civil society groups helps to provide home care for COVID-19 patients, some of whom receive treatment free if they cannot afford it. Specialist physician Dr Shoyab Wadee, who is part of the Islamic Medical Association, has been advising doctors on the best way to help patients receiving home care.

“The majority of patients are doing well with just oxygen, but there are some patients who need to go to hospital. Sometimes this type of care buys them time to get a hospital bed. There are checks and balances. You don’t want to give oxygen to a patient who doesn’t need it, and you don’t want to give a false sense of security to a patient who actually needs to go to hospital. It’s not perfect. I think we are all still learning. This helps to save the hospitals for those who are most in need of that care.”

Dr Riaz Ismail, head of the Islamic Medical Association in the Western Cape, said the association had oxygen concentrator machines for home care available to relieve the stress on hospitals.

Full report in The Times (subscription needed)

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