Tartu University Hospital to gradually resume scheduled treatment

Lunini Street entrance to Tartu University Hospital (TÜK) during the coronavirus outbreak.
Lunini Street entrance to Tartu University Hospital (TÜK) during the coronavirus outbreak. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Tartu University Hospital is paying attention first and foremost to the safety of both patients and health care professionals and is gradually restoring scheduled treatment, while constantly monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in Estonia and elsewhere in the world.

"Hospitals are currently in a situation they have never been in before. Nevertheless, the hospital wants to offer patients the best possible treatment both during as well as when exiting the emergency situation," Marek Seer, acting chairman of the management board of University of Tartu Hospital, said. "While, during the emergency situation, in addition to emergency care, treatment that could not be postponed continued - both in outpatient and hospital care -, then given the spread of COVID-19 in Estonia, it is time to find suitable ways to return to normal work," Seer added.

In addition to the guidelines signed by the Health Board, the hospital's crisis management team has developed criteria for assessing the resumption of scheduled medical services. Professor Joel Starkopf, head of the crisis management team, said the criteria will be used to determine in which specialties and to what extent scheduled medical care can be resumed. "The resumption of work will definitely vary from one field to another, as will its time axis, depending, among other things, on the logistics of the patients and the need for procedures," Starkopf said.

When resuming treatment, a balance must be struck between patients who have been left without medical care due to the emergency situation and other patients on the waiting list.

"The University of Tartu Hospital has data on all patients whose scheduled outpatient appointments, day care or inpatient treatment were postponed due to the emergency situation. We will contact these patients ourselves to agree on how the scheduled appointments or hospitalization will take place. We are following the principle that preference will be given to patients whose treatment has been postponed, but at the same time we must also find opportunities for other patients whose need for specialist or hospital treatment has become more acute," University of Tartu Hospital chief medical officer Andres Kotsar said.

"We thank the patients for their understanding and patience. Please continue to follow our information channels, we also share information on the restoration of treatment on a daily basis on the hospital's website," Kotsar added.

The resumption of treatment means, among other things, that, in the interests of patient and staff safety, the hospital will continue to adhere strictly to all anti-virus rules, which means that those entering the hospital must pass a checkpoint at the entrance. "When entering the building, your health will be checked and personal protective equipment will be provided," Kotsar said, adding that patients also have a major role to play in complying with infection control requirements. "In the hospital, patients must keep a distance of two meters with other patients and follow hand hygiene rules," he said.

According to Starkopf, it is precisely the fulfillment of strict infection requirements and the introduction of checkpoints that have been effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 on hospital premises. "On the basis of the experience of other countries, we can say that keeping the virus away from the hospital is key, so the resumption of scheduled treatment step by step is the only right solution," he added.

Editor: Anders Nõmm

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