3. Providing health services effectively
The section on PROVIDING HEALTH SERVICES EFFECTIVELY describes approaches for service delivery planning and patient pathways for suspected COVID-19 cases. It also considers efforts by countries to maintain other essential services during periods of excessive demand for health services.
3.1 Planning services
All non-critical elective operations have been postponed. This has enabled hospitals in the public sector to divert capacity to corona-related services and to include private sector ventilators in the calculation of overall response capacity.
There is a designation of departments and sections, but no hospitals are dealing exclusively with COVID-19 patients yet (March 25). Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen has converted a large section to deal with COVID-19 patients. Rigshospitalet (The National Hospital) has a designated department for severe COVID-19 cases.
Regarding the role for primary care providers in detecting and treating COVID-19 cases, patients experiencing symptoms may call the emergency phone service or their primary care physician. They are not allowed to visit the primary care providers or hospitals directly. The phone consultation determines whether the patients should be referred to quarantine at home or testing and potential further treatment in hospitals.
Video, telephone or other alternative consultations for health services were already in place, but have been scaled up during the epidemic. The regions and the GPs’ organization have agreed on a fee for consultations by telephone with patients with COVID-19 symptoms by telephone to encourage GPs to handle these cases by phone (https://www.laeger.dk/covid-19-i-almen-praksis-ny-aftale-om-telefonkonsultationer-og-aarskontrol). The Danish Health Authority has also established a telephone hotline for general questions about corona to ease the burden on the regular emergency phone service (https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/indland/politiet-til-corona-bekymrede-ring-til-hotline-ikke-vagtlaegen).
On March 27, the Danish Health Authority published guidelines on how to achieve continuity in care when discharging a patient with a positive test result or with symptoms of COVID-19 from a region's hospital to home care provided by a municipality (https://www.sst.dk/da/Nyheder/2020/Hvordan-sikrer-man-udskrivelse-af-personer-med-smitte-med-COVID-19-til-kommunal-pleje).
22 May: Due to the still decreasing number of hospitalized COVID-19 cases, hospitals with special COVID-19 hospital wards and only very few COVID-19 patients are closing COVID-19-wards (https://politiken.dk/forbrugogliv/sundhedogmotion/art7792101/Slagelse-Sygehus-sl%C3%B8jfer-coronaafdeling-%E2%80%93-det-er-spild-af-ressourcer).