Head of the Board at the West Tallinn Central Hospital (LTKH) Dr. Imbi Moks says that all patients admitted to the hospital are tested for the coronavirus, but if a patient is admitted during the incubation period, their infection cannot be predicted.
Did the infections occur simultaneously at the hospital or did medical professionals and patients test positive for the coronavirurs every now and then?
Employees and patients gave a positive coronavirus test in departments where a coronavirus patient had been admitted to. Coronavirus cannot be immediately identified by symptoms. At the beginning of the epidemic we had a patient in the internal medicine clinic, patients and employees were infected there.
We have had many coronavirus patients in the infectious diseases clinic and personnel also contracted the virus there. We don't admit any patients without a coronavirus analysis for the time being and those patients, whose coronavirus test comes back negative, are admitted to curative care. If the patient today tests negative, we take them to a regular department and if they test positive in two or three days, it means that the patient has been admitted during the incubation period, which cannot be predicted. Then the coronapositive patient is in a clinic with healthcare professionals and other patients.
Our task then is to swiftly isolate the patient, decontaminate the clinic and quarantine doctors and nurses, sending them home immediately. We are monitoring them, testing them. When they return, we make sure they are not infected. That we don't fully understand the coronavirus is a worldwide problem, which is why we have to be very cautious for months. As we can see, patients have been admitted to regular clinics after testing negative.
You identified that infections fell on the period between March 12 to May 5. Does this mean that tests given in the hospital during the last eight days have been negative?
Our employee last tested positive on May 7, we haven't had further positive results, but there are coronavirus-positive patients still in the infectious diseases clinic. We stress the importance of correct usage of personal protective equipment daily and this is what our employees are doing. We are doing our best.
How many patients are there at the hospital?
We haven't counted as of this morning. Patients who need emergency treatment are admitted in many clinics. These are patients that are brought to the hospital by ambulance, patients who admit themselves. Treatment cannot be postponed.
Are those infectious diseases clinic patients that haven't been admitted with suspected coronavirus still tested daily?
All patients are isolated into private rooms at the infectious diseases clinic. If they come to the hospital and are suspected of carrying the coronavirus, they are tested for the coronavirus. All patients admitted to other clinics - be it surgery clinic, internal medicine clinic, cardiology or neurology clinic - are all tested for the coronavirus prior to that. They are in a dedicated ward where they stay until we know the results of the analysis. And if it comes back negative, they will be admitted to curative care of their department.
As you said before, it has probably happened that someone has come to the hospital and their test comes back negative. Then they go to a regular department and it turns out later that the patient is positive after all. The test just didn't prove it before. Are you retesting patients that have been in the hospital for a week, just in case?
We don't retest all patients. But the first coronavirus patient was in the therapy department. Patient complained of having had a fever for two months. Could anyone have thought of corona then? And this was at the beginning of the emergency situation.
What departments are currently isolated? Are there any departments operating under normal conditions?
All departments except for one surgery department are at work. This surgery department, where the patient last mentioned gave a positive retest on their second or third day at the hospital, is under quarantine. If employees aren't getting sick any more, the quarantine will end at the end of this week.
Because of that, scheduled treatment will probably continue later? Can you tell, when?
Yes, after the Health Board has concluded their procedure.
And they haven't said how long that will take?
We have to answer their questions by May 18 and then we will wait for their decision. But it is clear that this is a major cooperation with the Health Board.
Are doctors under great pressure in this situation?
How would I say it... The whole emergency situation has been very serious for doctors, they are tired, the stress has been great and they would like to do their job, what they cannot do right now.
The Health Board, in cooperation with the West Tallinn Central Hospital, has identified that during the period between March 12 to May 5, 24 healthcare workers were infected, and during the period of March 24 to May 1, 24 patients had been infected by the coronavirus.
The Health Board advises postponing the start of scheduled treatment to ensure the safety of the patients that are in the hospital due to the in-hospital spread of the coronavirus.
Editor: Anders Nõmm