Al Wakra Hospital Drive-Thru Blood Coagulation Clinic Regional First
As part of ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to better serve the community, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has launched what is thought to be the region’s first drive-thru anticoagulation service at its Al Wakra Hospital.
The service, which started earlier this month, is designed to protect the country’s most vulnerable residents from exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Dr. Sabah Adnan Al Qadhi, Medical Director of Al Wakra Hospital, said the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, are most at risk for severe COVID-19 illness. He noted that most patients with blood-clotting disorders who require anticoagulation services fall under both those categories.
“People using blot clot prevention medications require ongoing medical care. Implementing a drive-up testing service, which allows patients to have their blood drawn without leaving their vehicle, is part of our ongoing efforts to keep vulnerable populations safe,” said Dr. Al Qadhi.
Dr. Ezzideen Hamza Sawali, Chair of Cardiology and Medical Supervisor for the Anticoagulation Clinic at Al Wakra Hospital said patients taking blot clot prevention medications such as warfarin require ongoing monitoring and management. He says these patients must have blood samples taken regularly to determine their international normalized ratio. He explains that the drive-up service has both reduced these patients’ actual risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus and the stress many were feeling about the need to come into the hospital for testing.
“Many of our patients expressed concern about exposure to COVID-19, particularly when they were required to go into the hospital for their blood tests. Most of our patients are elderly and have comorbid conditions and are at a higher risk of severe illness if they do contract COVID-19, so limiting their potential exposure to this virus is extremely important. Patients who require routine lab monitoring and medication dose adjustments can now get those services from their vehicle, rather than going into the hospital,” said Dr. Sawali.
Dr. Sawali explained that patients are contacted a day in advance to confirm their appointment time. He said on the day of their appointment, a nurse wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) will complete the necessary identification and medical screening processes before taking a sample of the patient’s blood, all from the window of their vehicle.
Dr. Osama Abdelsamad, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist and Supervisor of the Anticoagulation Service for the Pharmacy Department at Al Wakra Hospital says in most cases follow-up care is completed over the telephone, with the pharmacist communicating directly with the patient.
“Once the test results are returned, the pharmacist calls the patient to gather all necessary information and to confirm there are no changes to the patient’s condition and medications. This ensures the patient isn’t taking any other medications or experiencing any health issues which could impact how they respond to warfarin. Once the correct dosage is determined, a prescription is written and the patient receives their medication through our home delivery service,” said Dr. Abdelsamad.
Dr. Eman Al Hamoud, Assistant Director, Pharmacy Department, at Al Wakra Hospital said that while the service is a first for Qatar and the region, it is a model that has been applied extensively around the world, most notably in the US. She says drive-up testing services, where patients can have blood drawn without leaving their vehicle, have been a key element in keeping vulnerable patients safe while also stemming the spread of COVID-19.
The Anticoagulation Service at Al Wakra Hospital is run by clinical pharmacists working under the supervision of specialized physicians. The clinic plays an essential role in ensuring the safe care of patients taking anticoagulation medications such as warfarin, providing education and ongoing monitoring and management. The clinic receives around 200 patients each month, 70 percent of them are elderly, have other chronic diseases, or have a history of surgery, which requires special measures to be taken to protect them from infection.