St. George Hospital Part of Hezbollah’s Plan to Combat Coronavirus: Ready to Receive COVID-19 Patients
Fatima Deeb Hamzeh
The battle against “the enemy” Coronavirus does not seem easy at all and is unlikely to end soon. On the contrary, the quick spread of the virus and its threat force all societies to be at alert and prepared to act. It is a world-wide qualitative battle in the fullest sense of the word. Therefore, this virus requires the possession of qualitative weapons to confront it and win the battle.
The required weapons are: the health sector, medical sector, laboratories, precautionary measures, hospitals and their readiness, the medical teams and needed medical equipment. The world’s major players do not possess these weapons, and they seemed helpless and unable to take in the sick people. They have no ability to provide healthcare, quarantine or treatment for the patients. Italy, Spain and the United States are examples to these major players.
What about hospitals in Lebanon? How are the hospitals being prepared to confront the most serious phase of the spread of the pandemic? What is the role of Hezbollah and its plan in this context?
Dr. Mohamad Bashir, Chairman of the Saint George Hospital and the General Manager of Rasoul A’zam Hospital provided al-Ahed news with an insight on these issues.
Capacity of hospitals in Lebanon acceptable
Forty days to the beginning of the battle with Coronavirus, the Rafik Hariri Governmental Hospital as well as other private hospitals still receive patients infected with the virus. Around 6,550 people did the Covid-19 test out of which 446 cases were registered as positive [up to Monday 31/03/2020].
Commenting on the numbers, Dr. Bashir told al-Ahed news that “the capacity of hospitals to take in patients is acceptable, even though hospitals faced tremendous pressure at the beginning of the crisis when people poured into the hospitals to get the test done. Today, and with the help of several preventive, medical and health measures, we can say that our ability in the health sector is acceptable in terms of being able to receive, diagnose and treat patients as well as provide quarantine.
St. George hospital ready to take in Coronavirus patients
According to Dr. Bashir, Rafik Hariri hospital is the most prepared to take in Covid-19 patients among governmental hospitals, with the support of the ministry of health which has provided the hospital with a medical plan. In terms of private hospitals prepared to deal with the epidemic, Rasoul A’zam hospital tops the list.
Dr. Bashir told al-Ahed news “Whether at the St. George Hospital or Rasoul A’zam Hospital, we started precautionary measures and put a preventive and health plan simultaneously. Both hospitals started taking in suspected patients and cases, carrying out the test and transferring the infected cases to Hariri Hospital. We also set up chambers, medical teams, medical equipment for this matter, which played an important role in lifting pressure off the governmental hospital of Rafik Hariri. These measures put us on the right track when it comes to confronting the epidemic and protecting our society.
Of course, according to Dr. Bashir, the scenario in the hospitals of some countries such as Italy, Spain and the United States is frightening. “Seeing the medical sector collapse and hospitals unable to receive patients there is scary. Therefore, it was essential for us in Lebanon to establish a complementary health system to cooperate and collaborate together. This is where the Hezbollah medical emergency plan came from; Hezbollah decided to stand by the people and society, to support the governmental medical sector where it took the decision to prepare St. George hospital and turn it into a specialized hospital for confronting Covid-19 exclusively to contain the epidemic in case governmental hospitals became overloaded.”
Dr. Bashir declared that “the St. George hospital is ready now to receive 70 patients who need health care and 12 patients who need respirators.”
As Dr. Bashir puts it, “This is a matchless accomplishment. Those who work in the health sector realize the difficulty of preparing such a hospital with the needed equipment and the medical team. The entire hospital is prepared now only for Covid-19 cases. Everything has been taken into consideration and all required measures, logistics, the entrance and exit to and from the hospital, and administrative work have been studied and provided.”
Moreover, Dr. Bashir reiterated what Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah had said and told al-Ahed “the battle with Coronavirus seems to be a long-term battle, and it will not end in days or weeks. Therefore, the little number of infected people and preparedness of hospitals must not push us to relax and neglect the health and medical required measures. Hence, the Hezbollah plan has two main concerns in dealing with the situation; the patients and the hospitals.”
He concluded that “In this context, Hezbollah took quick action in terms of first, establishing and setting up medical centers in the different areas to lift pressure off hospitals and second, prepare the St. George Hospital exclusively for Covid-19 patients and the role of Rasoul A’zam Hospital in testing suspected patients and transferring them quickly to the specialized medical apparatus."