In order to contain the Coronavirus epidemic and protect everyone’s health, visits to hospitalized people are not allowed. This is a situation that makes hospital stays more delicate for the inpatient and their loved ones.
At this particularly difficult time, Humanitas has provided support services to patients, particularly those affected by COVID-19, and to their families.
Video calls between patients and family members
In hospitalized COVID-19 positive patients, a contact service between patients and relatives has been established, thanks to a handful of volunteers within nursing services.
The pilot phase of the service has been activated thanks to Martina, a perfusionist, who visits the wards with a tablet to allow patients who do not have a phone (or are not able to use one) to make video calls to their loved ones. The initiative was immediately well received by patients and in a few days Martina was nicknamed “the angel” among the patients with COVID-19.
Today the service is carried out thanks to the help of some doctors and nurses from Nuclear Medicine and Dermatology Operating Units. In addition to the technological devices provided by Humanitas, WIND-3 offered tablets and smartphones to all departments and MediaWorld stores donated some tablets and iPads to support the intensive therapy staff.
The service is also provided for patients admitted for other reasons.
Daily communication between doctors and family members
There is also a daily phone service that provides information to family members about their loved one’s health in the hospital or in the emergency room. The service is directly carried out by a doctor in the operating unit in charge of the patient.
A residence for discharged patients
A support project is also underway for patients who are in the recovery process but who cannot return to their homes after they have been discharged due to social fragility. Humanitas provides them a residence where they are hosted for up to 14 days, with a daily call for the measurement of their temperature and facilitation of their communication with the outside world, since relatives are not allowed to visit them in order to protect everyone’s health.
A support service once at home
There are also two support services for discharged patients, from the ER and from the hospital: patients discharged from the emergency room are equipped with an oximeter to monitor their readings at home and receve daily calls by a dedicated team of doctors, who assess their progress from remote.
The relatives of patients discharged from the hospital are contacted in order to facilitate the transportation in critical cases (e.g. for families in compulsory quarantine) and provide basic information on the follow up process (control CT scans and swabs).
“Humanitas at your side”: psychological counselling
There is also a specialist psychological counselling service, available via telephone or video call in pilot phase for emergency room patients and their families, which will be extended to patients in the ICU and their families.
The psychological support service “Humanitas at your side” was created with the aim of helping patients and their relatives to manage, from an emotional point of view, this difficult and extraordinary condition.
The service is provided by a dedicated team of Humanitas psychotherapists coordinated by Professor Giampaolo Perna, psychiatrist and lecturer at Humanitas University, and Doctor Michele Cucchi, psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Humanitas.
The linen change service
The linen pick-up and delivery service is continuing to grow and is establishing itself more and more as a valuable method of contact. In addition to delivering linens, this service handles with phones and tablets for loved ones in hospital (often in the ER or out of intensive care), as well as books, poems and drawings from children to their loved ones.
The staff offering this service to patients is made of volunteers – an important source of support, able to offer comfort words to relatives full of questions and fears about what will happen to their loved ones.
The distribution of hospital medication
For the approximately 2,500 inpatients to whom Humanitas normally dispenses medication, including life-saving medicines, there is a home delivery service (also thanks to the support of two pharmaceutical companies), and a pick-up service at the internal pharmacy.
It is also important to note the role of the ATS (Health Protection Agency) which has delivered around 50 rounds of therapies to patients in the Lombardy Region, and is contacting all patients outside of the region for information about delivery at the ATS local points of reference.
The role of the chaplain, Don Giorgio, has been enhanced to enable phone conversations with patients in the hospital. The patients are also able to watch religious celebrations on a special channel on their television.
At this critical moment in the lives of patients, special attention is being payed to different religions. Dedicated channels have been set up to better accommodate other religions like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam and Judaism.
Books and magazines
Thanks to many donations from companies that have asked to help during this crisis, Humanitas will soon have 600 books donated by the Solferino publishing house and about 600 Condè Nast magazines to be distributed to all the Humanitas Hospitals.