Hospital drive-through in Saudi Arabia is sweet medicine for patients

The drive-thru service will continue so that patients suffering from chronic illnesses will no longer have to come to the hospital, take a number and wait for their turn. (Photo/Mohammed Qenan Al-Ghamdi)
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Updated 03 June 2020

Hospital drive-through in Saudi Arabia is sweet medicine for patients

  • Drive-through pharmacies are growing worldwide, and a number of hospitals across KSA have opened centers to serve patients

JEDDAH: With curfews eased across much of Saudi Arabia, vital services provided by initiatives such as drive-thru pharmacies are helping to ensure social distancing for chronically ill patients.

Drive-thru pharmacy services are growing worldwide, and a number of hospitals across the Kingdom have opened centers and organized staff to serve patients amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Jeddah launched a drive-thru service on April 5 after a partial lockdown was ordered in the city on March 29 to prevent further spread of the virus.

“The hospital serves many patients across the Western region and, due to the lockdown, they are restricted from picking up their medications unless they’re given a permit allowing them to leave their homes,” said Dr. Abdulmohsin Marghalani, director of the hospital’s pharmaceutical care division.

“By establishing this drive-thru, we can lower the risk of transmission, and provide patients with their medications hassle free and in the safety of their cars.”

More than 9,800 medications have been dispensed to more than 3,200 patients since April 5.

Patients’ waiting times have also fallen dramatically, Marghalani said. The drive-thru pharmacy allows prescriptions to be filled quickly, with patient health and safety a top priority, he added.

“Patients must go through several screening points when entering the hospital, which can uncomfortable and time consuming,” Marghalani said.

Extra care is taken when preparing medications, with staff wearing protective suits. Medications are properly packaged and stored, he said.

Patients who contact the pharmacy call center are provided with options allowing for delivery or pickup. Increasing numbers of patients are choosing the drive-thru service.

“The situation has forced many health institutions to go ahead with emergency plans. This service is also important because you have biologics (medications developed from biological sources) and fridge items that are difficult to package and deliver through service companies,” Marghalani said.

Saudi Arabia has initiated a three-phase plan to return to normal life by June 21, but procedures are subject to continuous evaluation.

According to Marghalani, the service will continue so that patients suffering from chronic illnesses will no longer have to come to the hospital, take a number and wait their turn — a voice message to the call center with their name and file number will suffice.

Amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, the drive-thru service is considering expanding its hours of operation, he added.


King Salman receives closing statement of the Science Group Summit

Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, right, receives the closing statement of the S20 group from its chair Dr. Anas bin Faris Al-Fares. (SPA)
Updated 29 September 2020

King Salman receives closing statement of the Science Group Summit

  • The closing statement of the meeting included 10 recommendations, which will be submitted to the G20 heads of state

On behalf of King Salman, Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah on Monday received the closing statement of the Science Group Summit (S20) from the group’s chair, Dr. Anas bin Faris Al-Fares, who is also the president of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology, after a virtual meeting.
Several scientific organizations from the G20 countries took part in the meeting, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia. The S20 group focuses on future health, a circular economy and the digital revolution. The meeting stressed the importance of making decisions based on scientific facts supported by data.
The closing statement of the meeting included 10 recommendations, which will be submitted to the G20 heads of state. More than 180 scholars participated in drafting the recommendation. They called for increasing the level of preparedness in the wake of a pandemic. They also recommended consolidating advanced treatment and precision medical research with a particular focus on keeping the costs affordable and treatments accessible to all.
The group also stressed the need to devise policies to face challenges arising from demographic shifts. One of the recommendations includes development of an integrated approach to the extraction of natural resources.
They also urged the relevant authorities to consolidate recycling systems to curb carbon emissions.