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
In February the government designated 4 hospitals as points of treatment for COVID-19 cases (the Clinic for Infectious and Tropical Diseases of the Clinical Centre of Serbia in Belgrade and the Clinics for Infectious Diseases in the Clinical Centres of Vojvodina, Nis and Kragujevac). With an increase in the number of cases on 16 March, five more hospitals were designated to deal exclusively with COVID-19 patients (three in Belgrade, one in Nis and one in Novi Sad) (https://www.srbija.gov.rs/vest/451398/zdravstvene-ustanove-zbrinjavaju-samo-hitne-slucajeve.php).
According to the current initial algorithm, the patient must have had to have direct access to a general practitioner in primary care, preferably their “chosen doctor”, over the phone. During the initial phone call, the primary care physician would takes epidemiological data and assess the severity of symptoms. For persons suspected to have COVID-19 who werare older than 60 years and for persons with an underlying condition or comorbidity, the first examination hads to be conducted. In all other persons, if the physician, according to the patient's statement obtained by telephone, estimateds that it is a mild clinical presentation (temperature lower than 38° C and a cough without difficulty breathing), no clinical examination wasis necessary.
In case the doctor during the examination of the patient or during the monitoring period of the patient suspecteds a deteriorating health condition or if there wasis a risk of severe acute respiratory illness, they would refer the patient to the relevant infectious dieasedisease department for further examination and treatment. Testing and treatment of cases wereare performed only in designated hospitals.
On 10 March, the Ministry of Health published the list of phone numbers in all district Institutes of Public Health in Serbia as the first point of contact for patients with respiratory infections symptoms who had a history of travel to COVID-19 affected areas (https://covid19.rs/). On 18 March, the Ministry of Health established designated examination rooms for patients with symptoms of respiratory infections in all Primary Care Centres in Serbia. Phone numbers of designated examinations rooms are available to patients 24/7. On 25 March, the national COVID-19 info line has been established where patients can get all relevant information and directions related to COVID-19 (https://covid19.rs/%).