Use of hotels for managing mild to moderate patients with COVID-19
Administration of the Government of Georgia
On 31 December 2019, after the first cases of infection had emerged in the city of Wuhan, COVID-19 –started spreading rapidly across the world. The first case in Georgia was recorded on February 26, 2020. The first wave of the pandemic, which covered the period February-May, was successfully overcome by the country. Following a single case of coronavirus during the summer, a sharp increase in new cases began on 10 September and peaked on 10 December (7-day average incidence - 120.4). Instead of expanding field hospitals, the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs has started using hotels to treat patients with mild to moderate illness. Thus creating the possibility of using hospital beds only for severe cases.
Despite the measures taken by Government, the rapid increase cases of the new corona virus began in September and reached its peak on December 10. In response to COVID-19, the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs provided mobilization of 82 hospitals with more than 7,200 beds. Based on the experience of different countries, in order to prevent the shortage of hospital beds, the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the Tourism Agency, started using hotels to treat people with mild to severe COVID-19. Through COVID-hotels, the Ministry has avoided a shortage of hospital beds, also the need to treat patients in a field hospital in the cold of winter, or even worse consequences, the risk of leaving them without treatment. Medical supervision were set up in the hotels by the doctors and nurses. Hotels were provided with the necessary medicines, medical goods and personal protective equipment, also oxygen concentrators were installed in each hotel. In total, more than 120 hotels with 10,000 beds were mobilized. After evaluation by a primary care physician, patients with COVID-19 who do not have adequate housing to manage COVID are placed in COVID hotels, where they undergo the necessary laboratory examinations and a CT scan under the supervision of a physician. Patients are also provided with psycho-social support. After initial hospital treatment for COVID-19 cases, patients are also transferred to a hotel for medical supervision and completion of treatment in isolated conditions. COVID-hotels, patient is delayed for 10 days from the date of confirmation of the virus. At the end of the treatment period, they are taken home according to the PCR test results. In COVID-hotels, the activities of the medical staff and patient satisfaction are monitored by the Monitoring Service of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs. There is also a central online hotline connecting with patients to support them. Reimbursement of patient services in COVID-hotels is made by the Ministry at actual cost, but not more than 100 GEL per day for each beneficiary.
From September to February, 37% of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country are managed in COVID hotels. The use of hotels for the treatment of patients with coronavirus has been hailed by the World Health Organization's European Bureau as an innovative decision by the country to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. As a result of the innovation in action: • relieves a shortage of hospital beds during a peak pandemic; • attracts young people to treatment in comfortable hotels • patients are monitored by health workers and have socio-psychological support • low infection in health workers • reduced risk of spreading the virus • reduced cost of treatment in hotels compared to hospitals • Protect hotel owners from economic crisis.
In Georgia COVID19 hotels are being used as alternative to hospital and home care. The successful implementation of the project was facilitated by the joint coordinated actions of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the Tourism Agency to solve the problems arising during the pandemic. With the involvement of the travel agency, gambling with private businesses has led to the involvement of the hotel chain in managing the pandemic. Another enabling factor for the implementation of the project is the purchase of equipment needed for hotels within the framework of the World Bank loan and finding financial resources for the remuneration of medical staff. As part of the project, the Ministry used the opportunity to employ graduate students.
Hotels will be used for patients with COVID-19 until the end of the pandemic. Practice has shown that patients in COVID-hotels were managed successfully and the incidence of disease complications and the need for referral to hospitals was very low (up to 3-5%). Georgia's experience was shared by the United Kingdom and the use of hotels to manage patients with the new coronavirus began in February.
The COVID-hotels project has been introduced to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on both health and economy. As a result of effective public-private partnerships, hotel owners have been able to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic by mitigating the losses received through closed hotels in cooperation with the state. The project was of great importance to the health care system - avoiding the shortage of hospital beds and the risk of viral complications during a pandemic peak.
Deliverables & Timeline
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Beneficiaries are people with mild to moderate new coronavirus. The project is an effective example of public-private partnership. It is implemented through the joint efforts of several agencies - the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the Tourism Agency and private hotel owners.