Dubai hospital reopens as dedicated Covid-19 facility

The 50-bed hospital in Sonapur has separate male and female wards for patients who require oxygen support

A hospital in the Sonapur area of Dubai has been converted into a dedicated Covid-19 facility for moderate to severe patients.

The 50-bed unit was initially set up by Aster DM Healthcare in June last year as a critical care hospital for workers who live in the Muhaisnah neighbourhood.

It also provided treatment to Covid-19 patients and was declared Covid-free in December when numbers stabilised.

If we don’t take the patient in, we may lose him, that is the kind of patient we admit

Dr Sherbaz Bichu, chief executive of Aster Hospitals UAE

But with the recent increase in case numbers, Aster again decided to reserve the hospital to care only for coronavirus patients who require oxygen and ventilator support.

“This is completely, a 100 per cent Covid hospital. What we are dealing with right now is moderate, severe, critical patients who at a minimum require oxygen support,” Dr Sherbaz Bichu, chief executive of Aster Hospitals and clinics in the UAE, told The National.

“These are patients who require not simple but advanced medical support. We know that their chest is bad, so in another two days they will deteriorate.

“If we don’t take him in, we may lose the patient, that is the kind of patient we admit.”

Admission is no longer restricted to workers and includes any resident who requires specialised medical care.

The UAE on Tuesday said it would open seven field hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients and that a number of units were already operational.

Dr Bichu said allocating the private hospital specifically for Covid-19 patients would ease the pressure on other facilities.

The UAE's daily infection rates hit a high of 3,977 on February 3.

Although numbers have dropped since, they have fallen below 3,000 only five times this month.

Deaths also increased, eaking at 20 fatalities on February 19.

“With Covid numbers increasing, we have this dedicated facility in Sonapur to help the government,” Dr Bichu said.

The facility consists of male and female wards instead of individual rooms and areas in the hospital can be swiftly converted into intensive care units when required.

“We have ventilators and advanced equipment. If a patient turns serious he can be handled in Sonapur itself,” he said.

Dr Sherbaz Bichu, chief executive of Aster Hospitals and Aster Clinics UAE, says a 50-bed hospital in Dubai’s Sonapur area is dedicated to handle Covid-19 patients and will ease the pressure on other facilities. Courtesy Aster DM Healthcare
Dr Sherbaz Bichu, chief executive of Aster Hospitals and Aster Clinics UAE, says a 50-bed hospital in Dubai’s Sonapur area is dedicated to handle Covid-19 patients and will ease the pressure on other facilities. Courtesy Aster DM Healthcare

Reshma Raju, a nurse, is part of the more-than-50-strong team of medics monitoring the patients.

She was among a group of nurses brought in by Aster from its hospitals in India last year to care for Covid-19 patients.

Monitoring patients with breathing difficulties and regularly checking vitals such as blood pressure and temperature are part of the job, she said, as well as reassuring patients to keep them calm.

“They are alone and they worry about their family, so we keep talking to them,” Ms Raju said.

Dr Bichu said private health operators are drawing up plans for standalone Covid clinics tailored for mild and moderately ill patients.

Specialists will use X-rays and blood tests to check if a patient’s condition is worsening even if there are no outward signs.

This will be separate from the Sonapur hospital.

Positive patients could come in to the planned clinics for non-Covid-related complaints such as injuries and other illnesses.

“There are signs and symptoms that show up in a chest X-ray and if patients come in and you pick this up, you can start treatment much earlier,” he said.

Dr Bichu said residents who had taken the second vaccine dose can check their antibody level to gauge the level of protection against the virus.

Serology tests available at Aster and other clinics can detect the amount of antibodies in a person’s blood.

“People can do an initial test before your shot to find out what your level is before and after vaccination,” he said.

“After you are done with the second vaccination and your antibodies are low, it means you have to be extremely careful and avoid gatherings.”

Updated: February 24, 2021 05:11 PM

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