Fighting COVID-19

The hidden resources of the Lebanese University from Lab doctors, nurses and call center workers fighting coronavirus

When coronavirus locked millions of people in their homes around the world to avoid infection, only the medical teams of various specializations appeared in the front lines, from initial examination and lab analysis to nursing and counseling management.

The hidden resources of the Lebanese University (LU) joined the front-liners at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital (RHUH), increasing the number of nurses and laboratory staff supporting “Corona Unit” from 14 to 17 doctors with the addition of Dr. Silvana Hanna, Dr. Hadil Basma and Dr. Olfat Awwad from the LU - Faculty of Medical Science (FMS).

Dr. Awwad (internal medicine specialist) indicated that she joined "Corona Unit" a week ago, describing her short experience as "different" and stressing the importance of psychological support needed by coronavirus patients.

Coronavirus Tests Analysis Laboratory Staff

The test results represent the main pillar for the doctors in the diagnosis or assistance to diagnosis, which requires work accuracy and result confidence.

To this end, a team of trained physicians from the FMS, including Fatima Jaffal, Darine Kharroubi, Mahdi Fadlallah, Firdous Safwan, Jana Mourad and graduates from the Department of Laboratory Sciences at the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) were assigned to this task, under the supervision of Dr. Rita Feghali (LU – FPH Professor).

Fatima Jaffal (practicing physician) noted that the responsibility of laboratory personnel includes checking the data of ordinary patients and coronavirus patients (+150 people per day), analyzing their tests and giving the results, in addition to studies and research conducted periodically by the lab team.

Nursing Staff

The nurses of RHUH receive coronavirus patients with "smiles of hope", and bid farewell to those who recovered with "signs of victory”.

Nurse Mayssa Karaki (certified nurse and holder of Master in Public Health) said: "We are dealing with danger when we receive patients, but our professional, ethical, and human commitment obliges us not to revert from helping those people and ensuring their comfort."

Karaki noted that the work of the nursing staff is divided into three domains:

Receive suspected cases and prepare them for the PCR test;

Help and reassure the patient, and support him psychologically and morally (as a first stage);

Follow up on the patient in isolation (if tested positive).

Nurse Ahlam Fashwal (certified nurse) referred to the difficulties faced by the nurses currently, the most important of which is the distance from parents and the fear from interaction.

On the status of patients in isolation, Ahlam said: "They always ask about the duration of the isolation. Most of them are afraid and they talk about a new life after this experience. We try to facilitate their isolation period by providing Internet and books, and helping them in some activities, including sports, in addition to psychological and moral support ..."

Mayssa and Ahlam summarized the nursing staff’s course of action in fighting coronavirus as a battle with the available resources. They talked about touching situations with coronavirus patients or suspected patients (some arrive psychologically broken-down and others say that they do not want to die before seeing their family).

Call Center Volunteers

The work of volunteers from the LU - FMS, FPH and Faculty of Pharmacy and private universities is divided in two centers: Ministry of Public Health and the MoPH Epidemiological Surveillance Center in Ras El-Nabeh.

The students, Hassan Sharri and Ali Mhanna from the LU - FMS (7th Year), explained the mechanism of work in these two centers:

  • MoPH: The volunteers follow up with home quarantined people (from travelers) by contacting them to check and inquire about the development and evaluation of their health status.
  • Ras El-Nabeh: Volunteers receive phone calls to report health symptoms that may be related to coronavirus, inquire about the virus and its symptoms, inquire about the protection and sterilization method, or to file complaints with citizens not adhering to preventive measures.

A team from UNHCR and Amel Association joined the Call Center volunteers to answer inquiries from Syrian refugees and non-Lebanese people.

The MoPH began on 2 April 2020 operating a new hotline (01 - 59 44 59) capable of receiving six calls simultaneously, and equipped with digital recording technology, so that the volunteers may contact the caller at any later time if the line is busy.

Different teams forming one integrated body, choosing humanity as a profession and spreading hope in the hard times of Corona.

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