491 health professionals deployed on COVID-19 patients’ duty

A total of 491 health professionals have been deployed on COVID-19 duty. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) has deployed 277 health staff on COVID-19 duty as of 28 November. Phuentsholing hospital has deployed 124 health staff, Eastern Regional Referral Hospital has deployed 32 health staff, and Central Regional Referral Hospital, Gelephu has deployed 58 health staff.

As for the deployment of the health staff, Medical Superintendent of JDWNRH, Dr Gosar Pemba, said the health staff are deployed as per the number of COVID-19 patients.  One doctor is deployed even if there is just one patient. He said even if the number of cases increases to 20 or more, usually one doctor is deployed if there are no serious patients.

When the first COVID-19 case was reported in Bhutan, one specialist was deployed because the patient was in a serious health condition. Later on, just the general doctors were deployed as all the patients were in stable condition. However, through video conference, the specialist would direct the general doctors on what to do. But if somebody becomes serious then there are identified specialists which the hospital will deploy.

During the first case, the hospital had to deploy medical specialist, doctors working in ICU and nurses working in ICU. JDWNRH has recorded 149 COVID-19 patients as of 28 November 2020. 

Dr Gosar said doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff are quarantined for 14 days, and health teams are changed for COVID-19 duty. After quarantine, all doctors and other health staff rejoin their normal work and they will not be deployed back on COVID-19 duty.

The hospital is trying not to send the same doctors for COVID-19 duty twice, but it will depend on the number of cases. In a situation where there are high numbers of cases coming in then the same doctors and health staff might have to go for COVID-19 duty. Doctors and health staff are required to practice for two days on how to manage patients and also donning and doffing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before taking up their COVID-19 duty.

So far, the hospital has not faced any issues in deploying doctors and health staff. The hospital also has enough PPE as the health ministry provides PPE to the hospital enough for six months as per their stock level.

Meanwhile, the hospital has faced no issues in managing COVID-19 patients so far. However, Dr Gosar said Phuentsholing has faced a shortage of health staff, and so they are mobilizing nurses and doctors from western region for the COVID-19 duty.

JDWNRH has not mobilized any of its health staff to the other regions since the hospital needs health staff in the flu clinic, and new clinic outside hospital building, some staff in the emergency and other wards. The hospital is facing health staff shortages in some departments but it has been managing somehow.

Bhutan got 432 COVID-19 cases of which 42 are active and 390 have recovered with zero death.

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