UNDP sets up triage unit at Irbid hospital to accommodate surge of patients during crisis

  • Unit ‘critical’ in protecting patients, employees from possible infection — hospital director

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Jordan has set up a triage unit at King Abdullah University Hospital in Jordan’s northern city of Irbid to support the hospital in dealing with the latest increase in patient intake amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The triage unit serves as a screening point and a preventive measure taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus by ensuring that any patients coming in with COVID-19 symptoms are separated from the main departments of the hospital and are transferred to specialized units. 

King Abdullah University Hospital has come under increased pressure since the coronavirus crisis began. Located on the intersection between several major cities, the hospital is the largest health facility in the north serving Jordanians and a Syrian refugee population of around 300,000 people.

This unit has become a permanent part of the hospital, which serves a population of one million people in northern Jordan, including Syrian refugees.

With the UNDP’s intervention, King Abdullah University Hospital is now able to handle an additional 500 cases daily, raising the overall capacity of the hospital to 2,000 daily visitors.

Following WHO guidelines, the unit is equipped with medical gear and staffed by trained healthcare professionals who received special training on classifying patients while ensuring their safety. It was set up in cooperation with Jordan Health Aid Society-International.

This the third triage facility to be set up by the UNDP in Jordan. Last month, a large triage tent was erected in front of Al Bashir Hospital, growing the capacity of the hospital’s ER unit by more than 800 patients. Al Bashir Hospital is also dealing with an increase in cases since it became the only major public hospital serving non-COVID-19 cases. Amman’s other major hospital, Prince Hamzah Hospital, has been assigned to exclusively treat COVID-19 cases. 

The UNDP has also set up a triage tent at the New Zarqa Governmental Hospital’s ER unit, increasing its capacity by 400-500 unique patients daily.

Minister of Local Administration Walid Masri commended the support provided by the UNDP, especially as it increases the capacity of the health sector in light of the exceptional circumstances that Jordan, like other countries of the world, is facing to confront this pandemic. 

“This unit will contribute to strengthening and supporting the capabilities of King Abdullah University Hospital, which is bearing additional burdens as one of the hospitals specialized in dealing with this pandemic".

UNDP Resident Representative Sara Ferrer Olivella said that Jordan's public health sector has been under “intense pressure” in dealing with the testing and treatment of COVID-19 cases.

“This pandemic is an unprecedented health crisis, and it is also a humanitarian and development crisis,” she said, adding: “The UNDP’s support in partnership with AGFUND [Arab Gulf Programme for Development] and national partners in Jordan seeks to strengthen the health systems by preventing the spread of the virus.” 

“There are the COVID-19 cases, but there are thousands of other cases that also need care and should not be left behind,” she added.

The UNDP is studying adding triage facilities in other healthcare institutions at public hospitals and border crossings.

Executive Director of AGFUND Nasser Alkahtani recognised the efforts made by the UNDP in addressing the socio-economic impact of the pandemic in Jordan. 

“As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, AGFUND and the UNDP’s partnership has been established to support and strengthen the health system in Jordan, which will lead to providing healthcare for both Syrian refugees and host communities,” said Alkahtani.

“Today, through our financial inclusion programmes for Jordanians and Syrian refugees, we all stand together in the fight against this pandemic,” he added.

According to General Manager of King Abdullah University Hospital Mohammad Al Ghazou, this unit is a “critical effort” in ensuring that all patients and employees are safe from possible infection.

“The triage unit helps keep everyone safe by creating more capacity for the ER units and facilitate required physical distancing for potentially contagious patients and allowing our team to have more room to accommodate a large surge of patients,” he said.

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