We are nearing twelve months since governments worldwide began taking serious measures to protect people from COVID-19. Life has changed drastically for individuals. People began working from home. Children and university students started online learning instead of classroom instruction. The pandemic also negatively impacted almost all businesses, forcing them to change how they work or, unfortunately, in many cases, cease operations.
Private clinics and other medical facilities faced many of the same restrictions as businesses in other areas. For several months, clinics could only treat patients who required urgent or emergency care. Additionally, they adopted numerous health and safety protocols, even more than regular businesses. Some of these included wearing additional protective gear (masks for everyone, face shields for some), implementing additional and more extensive cleaning protocols, pre-screening patients by phone before appointments, and many more. At the first wave’s peak, clinics had to turn away patients who had COVID symptoms and refer them to designated public facilities.
Our team did not let the pandemic stop us from helping all patients. We had been working on a telemedicine project months before the pandemic struck. The project was on hold. However, we restarted the project as soon as the restrictions on patient care came out. In one week, we launched the new service, which has become an important part of our service and continues to grow.
FirstMed was hit particularly hard as it was awaiting approval for its new endoscopy center. The clinic received the approval a few days after the restrictions on healthcare began. FirstMed could only open the clinic nearly four months later. FirstMed’s much larger project, a clinic in Rome, Italy, also faced approval delays. FirstMed Rome is only now expected to get its license in the coming days.
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We have come a long way from the early pandemic restrictions. The world has learned how to better defend against COVID. We have better and more available COVID testing. Pharmaceutical companies are releasing vaccines at an increasing rate. While we will not let our guard down, we will reflect on the past year. We have asked Dr. Zoltan Gyulai a couple of questions about working at FirstMed during the pandemic. He shared this with us,
How has the pandemic made your job more difficult?
“My job became more difficult because I needed to learn how to keep myself away from the infection. Obviously, I do work in clean circumstances, but this situation was more than that. Handwashing all the time, the FFP masks, which you are not able to breathe in properly, and the string just pulls off your ears of your head. And the always changing guidelines. We experienced weeks when three different guidelines came out what we needed to follow. Also, sometimes patients come with the newest information – I did not even know about -about the virus because they were well educated
When seeing patients you do anything differently from 12 months ago?
Yes, we do care a lot more not to get an infection and/or infect the patients. Hygiene became more important, which is good.