The home isolation scheme, where asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases are asked to stay home, with online care from medics, started today (Wednesday) under the “Warm Community Clinic” banner, with as many as 1,283 medical volunteers in support. The scheme is to provide a solution to the current hospital bed shortage, caused by continuously rising infections and deaths in the country.
The virtual “clinic”, which is a National Heath Security Office (NHSO) initiative, involves numerous doctors, nurses and pharmacists monitoring and caring for their patients in home isolation through video calls.
Dr. Supattra Srivanichakorn, President of the General Practitioners and Family Physicians Association of Thailand, heads the support team at the clinic and the NHSO’s 1330 hotline, where she explains that they assist in the registrations process, including the patient classification and the monitoring of health conditions via telephone and LINE messaging app. They also watch over medical personnel working closely with the communities.
For asymptomatic and mild cases, medics will deliver medication, including the Thai herbal medicine Fah Talai Jone, and other necessary equipment.
As for moderate to severe cases waiting for hospital beds, the medics will contact the 1330 hotline to assist in finding beds. Antiviral Favipiravir tablets will be prescribed until the patients are found a hospital bed, pending Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration’s approval of its use. So far, the Chulabhorn Royal Academy has reserved 5,000 tablets and is coordinating with hospitals to reserve more of the medication.
The volunteers can monitor up to 1,000 patients per round, while the nurses will be split into four teams to monitor their assigned patients for 14 days or until the patient has recovered. With an estimated 40,000 patients in Bangkok and nearby provinces waiting for hospital beds, more medical volunteers are, however, still needed.
Meanwhile, Vice-President of The Royal College of Family Physicians of Thailand Dr. Sairat Noknoy said that the doctors will provide advice to people on how to isolate, how the medics can keep track of the patients’ conditions through phone calls or LINE, record body temperature and oxygen levels and monitor their mental health, to asses any possible psychological deterioration during isolation.
President of the Royal College of Family Physicians of Thailand Dr. Apinun Aramrattana explained that the college has taken care of patients staying at home before and that, from experience, “the important thing is to calm the concerns of the infected, their families and their communities.”
“We know that patients expect to be able to talk to doctors and nurses, so the college has volunteered to help,” he added.