The North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) will limit planned activities in connection with the COVID-19 emergency situation from Tuesday as the hospital needs to be prepared for the outbreak of the virus growing more serious and ensure capacity to take in patients who need intensive care from all over the country.
PERH will cut back regular in-patient work starting on March 17, including day surgery, day treatment and ambulatory appointments in clinics. This might cause appointments, tests or surgery to be postponed or appointments held over video link. Restrictions could enter into force on Monday for some specialties, the hospital communicated.
Following the recommendation of the Health Board, the social minister has declared an emergency medical situation and elevated the healthcare system's preparedness level from 1 to 2.
"This means that hospitals are required to limit availability of regular care or suspend it in order to be prepared for emergency needs," CEO of PERH Agris Peedu said, adding that the hospital's infection control task force has been working on preparations for days.
Peedu said that hospitals need to ensure treatment of time-critical patients, work to effectively block the virus from spreading in hospitals and ensure safety of patients and staff.
"Patients will be contacted by their attending physician who will decide the next course of action. People will be contacted by phone at least a day before their scheduled appointment at the hospital," the hospital's head of treatment Dr. Helis Pokker said.
Pokker said that the hospital has started contacting patients, starting with those belonging to risk groups to ensure their own safety. The doctor said that everyone's medical records will be examined separately and the best solution found.
"If you are not connected before your appointment, please do not come to the hospital and instead write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617 1300," Pokker urged.
PERH will be retaining planned treatment of serious and life-threatening conditions and emergency care, the hospital said.
To ensure the safety of patients and healthcare workers, visiting patients is still prohibited by order of the government.
People suffering from COVID-19 or those who exhibit symptoms that point to the disease (cough, running nose, fever) should not turn to emergency rooms. People are urged to consult their family physician over the phone, call the family medicine hotline 1220 or the 112 emergency number. PERH also asks people not to turn to the ER with mild viral infections.
The medical center will be keeping everyone up to date via its website at regionaalhaigla.ee and its Facebook page.
Editor: Marcus Turovski