Egyptian hospital offers psychological support as part of coronavirus treatment

Special Egyptian hospital offers psychological support as part of coronavirus treatment
Egyptian doctors check a patient’s X-ray at the infectious diseases unit of the Imbaba Hospital in Cairo, during the novel coronavirus pandemic crisis. (AFP)
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Updated 17 June 2020

Egyptian hospital offers psychological support as part of coronavirus treatment

Egyptian hospital offers psychological support as part of coronavirus treatment
  • Patients suffering from anxiety, depression in quarantine

CAIRO: An Egyptian hospital meant for the quarantine of coronavirus patients is introducing a psychological support initiative as part of its treatment protocol.

Kafr El-Dawwar General Hospital is in Beheira governorate close to Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city.

The initiative is being launched under the supervision of the Egyptian Ministry of Health and is being applied as some coronavirus patients are suffering from depression.

Dr. Yasser Zayed, the hospital’s director, said that coronavirus patients believed they had reached the “end” of their lives. “Therefore, they show severe psychological symptoms that drive them to attempt to escape from quarantine hospitals or carry out dangerous actions like smashing room windows and medical equipment.”

He underlined the importance of psychological support for coronavirus patients which, he said, was as important as the treatment itself.

Zayed added that, although the state was making huge efforts to treat coronavirus patients by allocating many government hospitals for examination and quarantine, the role of psychological support for patients inside quarantine hospitals remained low despite its crucial importance as panic increased among COVID-19 patients.

He said the initiative included providing all types of psychological support for coronavirus patients, as well as providing such support for doctors and medical teams in quarantine hospitals, as the number of infections continue to rise.

Egypt has 47,856 confirmed cases and a death toll of 1,766, according to data from the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

“Psychological capabilities differ from one patient to another, especially coronavirus patients who believe they have reached the end of their lives as soon as they are admitted into a quarantine hospital. However, others remain strong but need some psychological support from time to time,” Zayed said. He said that the program would be applied by psychiatrists and experts assigned from specialist hospitals.

One psychiatrist assigned to work in the hospital, and who preferred to remain anonymous, said that the coronavirus patient was different from other patients. “Thus, he needs more psychological support,” the doctor told Arab News. “Moreover, medical team members have various psychological capabilities. Most patients in quarantine hospitals suffer from stress and anxiety since they are isolated from society during treatment. They are also more vulnerable and are affected by the mounting panic from this pandemic.”

He explained that the psychological state of a coronavirus patient contributed to a great extent to his or her recovery, especially because some patients suffered from severe depression and anxiety because their fear of death was such that they refused to fully adhere to treatment protocols. They should receive immediate psychological support before their condition deteriorated, he added.

The doctor called on the Ministry of Health to provide audio and visual media material to communicate with patients in quarantine hospitals as a way to facilitate the task of psychiatrists and to also maintain privacy during treatment.

“The psychological treatment of coronavirus patients is applied on two tracks - direct contact with the patient through extensive psychiatric sessions and through medication according to specialized protocols so as not to clash with the main coronavirus treatment protocol,” he added.

The General Secretariat for Psychological Health has provided psychological services coinciding with the disease’s outbreak including a hotline for consultations. 

It has assigned almost 300 specialists and employees and provided them with special training on psychological support. Staff have received 2,800 questions on the hotline, mainly dealing with stress, anxiety, depression and the fear of getting infected.