The Rambam Hospital in Haifa finished preparations ahead of the opening of a new coronavirus department on Tuesday. The facility will be on its own floor, isolated from the rest of the hospital.
Construction and logistic teams worked in the past week to cut an entire floor of the hospital in two: a hospitalization wing on one side and rooms for the team on the other side. The department will also have a separate ambulance entrance and elevator. Air from the rooms will be pumped through a filter before it exits the building.
The new department will be able to hold 30 patients, with two rooms that will be able to treat children and an additional room for patients who have been intubated due to acute respiratory failure.
A special coronavirus team was trained by Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, which opened its own coronavirus unit last month.
The department will be staffed by 30 nurses who all volunteered for the job, as well as doctors from a range of different departments. The team will be specialized for this department and until further notice will not work in any other department.
Patients will have phones and video equipment in their rooms in order to talk with family and medical professionals, with the aim of minimizing contact between patients and other people.
Rambam said in a release that a new remote monitoring system will be used for the first time in Israel in this new department. The system, developed by the Israeli start-up Biobeat, includes smart monitoring stickers that will replace the currently used monitoring methods. The stickers will be put on all the patients and will allow continuous monitoring of breathing, saturation, pulse, blood pressure, body temperature and other essential metrics. The results will be continually streamed to an information system, allowing the monitoring of every patient without the need for physical contact.
“The establishment of the specialized department for the intake of coronavirus patients presents us with many challenges, some of which we learned for the first time. Some of them we’re creating from scratch, because the experience throughout the world regarding everything connected to the coronavirus is limited,” said Dr. Michael Halbertal.
“There is impressive volunteering and I am sure that we can stand before the mission to provide quality medical care to the citizens of Israel who may find themselves sick with the coronavirus. This is part of our mission as medical professionals.”
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported the lowest single-day figure on Tuesday – 1,866 new cases of coronavirus – leaving Chinese health officials optimistic that the number of new COVID-19 cases has tentatively stabilized.
The fatality rate for the disease is around 2%, which is lower than that of the related Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) but higher than the rate of 0.1% for seasonal flu.
Three new cases of coronavirus were announced in Israel on Tuesday night. This raises the total count of Israelis sick with coronavirus to 15.Two of the cases seemingly encountered one another at a store belonging to the Red Pirate. The third was self-quarantined since returning from a vacation in Italy on February 29th. All three are currently in quarantine.
Reuters contributed to this report.