Doha, 17 May, 2020: Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is using state-of-the-art treatment options for patients with COVID-19 who are currently under its care. The healthcare provider has six hospitals dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 patients who require specialized care – Hazm Mebeireek General Hospital, the Communicable Disease Center (CDC), The Cuban Hospital, Ras Laffan Hospital, Mesaieed Hospital, and the newly opened field hospital in Al Shahania, bringing the total bed capacity in all these facilities to more than 4,000.
“There are no approved vaccines or medicine for COVID-19, but patients can receive medical care to relieve their symptoms. While most COVID-19 patients in Qatar experience only mild symptoms, some do require additional levels of care and support,” said Dr. Muna Al Maslamani, Communicable Disease Center Medical Director.
One treatment uses the blood plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients. The plasma contains antibodies that have been shown to help improve immunity against COVID-19. Dr. Al Maslamani says there is some evidence suggesting the plasma treatment improves the overall condition of COVID-19 patients.
“The plasma therapy is showing promise as a treatment for COVID-19. It is also called convalescent plasma treatment and requires blood plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19. We have started using plasma treatment at the Communicable Disease Center using plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19,” said Dr. Al Maslamani.
To date, 91 patients have received plasma from 79 recovered donors and the team is seeing the number of donations from recovered patients rise each week.
Most critically ill COVID-19 patients are currently being treated at the Intensive Care Unit at Hazm Mebeireek General Hospital and severely ill COVID-19 patients often require mechanical ventilation. A small percentage will require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy.
“The ECMO technology can oxygenate a severely sick COVID-19 pneumonia patient's blood without the need to transfer the oxygen through fluid-filled lungs. ECMO replaces the function of the lung like the dialysis function for a kidney,” said Dr. Ahmed Al Mohammed, Acting Chairman of HMC’s Intensive Care Units.
Dr. Al Mohammed said COVID-19 patients who undergo ECMO therapy are among the sickest being treated.
“Severely ill COVID-19 patients require sophisticated treatment and we have not only sufficient numbers of staff and equipment but also the specialized skills and experience required to care for the sickest patients,” said Dr. Al Mohammed
“The average length of stay for COVID-19 patients in the ICU has been between two and three weeks but patients with existing medical conditions often take longer to recover from the virus. Should the number of COVID-19 patients who require ICU-level care rise, HMC has contingency plans in place which would enable us to redeploy manpower from other parts of the healthcare system,” added Dr. Al Mohammed.