COVID-19 has invariably changed the way of life of people across the globe. Tolling above all the sounds of the bells of change is perhaps the sound of the ‘New Normal’.
Indeed, political parties, churches and businesses are all forging ahead with the sound of the new normal.
It is on this soundtrack that telemedicine finds its appreciation by a large segment of society and Danpong Healthcare Services, a private primary healthcare service provider, is getting its fair share of praise with its unique way of reaching out to the sick, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mrs Catherine Perdison, a pensioner, loathes the idea of visiting the hospital for fear of contracting the flu-like virus.
Many other patients simply have resorted to self-medication by visiting the drug stores or pharmacies. Hundreds of rural dwellers especially, also have taken to herbal medicine.
To help tackle the potential danger with self-medication, Danpong introduced the “Health on wheels services”, and Mrs Perdison, 79, has signed up onto service, enabling her to now receive weekly routine medical care.
Mr Fred Golo, Chief Executive Officer of the Centre, describes the initiative as the “last mile approach towards ensuring good health and wellbeing under the sustainable development goals”. “We offer the same services that patients would have received if they should visit the facility,” he said.
Healthcare on wheels
Healthcare on wheels is simply having medical equipment and service providers in a dedicated vehicle, which moves around local communities to provide healthcare services.
Mr Golo explains that the service, which commenced in August this year, has more than 100 patients and counting. He says the Company has three dedicated vehicles, of, which one is equipped with medical items, a dedicated ambulance and another for marketing services.
He adds that a dedicated customer service directorate has been set up to respond to calls from clients. “Once a call comes through, details of the patient are taken, and a bit of interaction takes place to have an idea about the condition of the person.
This helps the team, made up of a medical doctor, nurses and a laboratory technician, to know the kind of service needed and prepare adequately,” he said.
“If the person is in an emergency, then we move the ambulance. In case the client does not need emergency services then they go with vehicles fitted with basic medication and equipment such as blood pressure monitor, a glucometer to check blood sugar, pulse oximeter to check if the person will need oxygen or not and a nebulizer for asthmatic patients”.
The team leader for ‘Danpong On Wheels’ initiative, Dr Dennis Walker, says the service is helping vulnerable groups, the aged, and patients with chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes.
“Sometimes transporting them is even an issue and then knowing that they are more at risk of falling victim to covid-19, yet they need follow up visits to make sure they are in a stable condition and do no run out of their medications… it is an interesting experience,” he noted.
The GNA joined them to witness how it works as part of putting together this report. On that day, Dr Walker and his team arrived at the premises of Mrs Perdison, a subscriber at Okpoi-Gonno, a suburb of Batsoona at 0700 hours as scheduled.
In strict compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, both the medics and the patients wear inappropriate gears. The nurse checked the patient’s body temperature, blood pressure and other essentials.
Dr Walker then took over to conduct additional examinations, inspected her drugs and prescribed additional medication.
Speaking in an interview with the GNA after the exercise, Mrs Perdison indicated that she had seen a “marvellous improvement” in her health since she was registered for the service, three months ago.
Gloria Morrison, daughter of Mrs Perdison, says the family can now save more time for other needs having been freed from the routine of regularly taking their mother to the hospital for medical care.
“Subscribing to this service has been worth it. We are all busy and do not have the time to be taking her to the hospital. Even in our absence, we are confident that the medical team will give her befitting care and attention,” she said.
Dr Walker, who is in-charge of the service, expresses the confidence that more patients will sign up saying, “This is our first home service and frankly, it has been well received by our clients.”
“We involve the relatives and caregivers in the management of the patient, so it’s been good so far and the clients are happy about the service.”
Mrs Perdison remarks, “I have seen real changes in my health ever since they started visiting. I was afraid to visit the hospital because of my age and more so older people are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.”
“Now I feel safe and more comfortable. Others are now rushing, I’m already in,” she concludes, inviting a broad smile from Dr. Walker, who added, “gradually, Danpong health on wheels is becoming the talk of town amid the fear of a second wave of COVID-19 in the country.”