Healthcare during Covid-19 has seen some drastic changes.
There have been many wide-ranging and even surprising impacts brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. For those working in the healthcare sector, those impacts have often been the most dramatic.
With all medical staff and resources required to meet the strenuous demands expected, there was immediate attention on what was available and what could be scaled up.
As the disease itself began its spread, there was a wide-reaching need for special provisions to be put in place. The healthcare of citizens was of the highest priority.
What was often seen as a robust system of interconnected health services was suddenly deemed vulnerable because of the nature and severity of the disease.
The questions became clear – would the healthcare system be able to respond, adapt and cope with the challenges that Covid-19 was to bring?
Meticulous preparation was vital and a fully coordinated response would prove to be just as important.
Important steps are taken in healthcare during Covid-19
The levels of stress placed on almost all facets of healthcare during Covid-19 have been beyond expectation.
One critical step in preparation for the pandemic was a joint initiative to plan for more than 30,000 extra hospital beds and have over 100,000 available medical staff across Australia. Federal and State governments, along with healthcare providers in the private sector, saw the need to collaborate and co-ordinate an approach that could deal with a possible skyrocketing number of infections and hospitalisations.
With these plans being outlined and made public, almost immediate demand for resources such as hospital equipment rental was created. There was also increased interest in hospital bed rental and how patient management could be streamlined.
The initial focus was centred on the ability of Intensive Care Units to function at the optimum level. Concern grew for health within the Aged Care sector where the effects of Covid-19 were to impact the most heavily. The supply of those elements that are crucial to effective healthcare was scrutinised and evaluated.
The essential need for compressed air
The proper running of hospital and healthcare facilities relies on a guaranteed supply of electricity, gas, water, and compressed air.
Why compressed air?
There is always an essential demand for medical-grade air supply for ventilators and air filtration, surgical procedures, and decontamination. With the spread of Covid-19 then declared a worldwide pandemic, this demand became truly critical.
An air compressor performs a key role in maintaining air for a wide range of issues within the healthcare environments such as;
- the disinfection and cleaning of medical equipment and facilities
- the useability of medical tools and equipment
- the maintenance and repairs of other essentials
The day-to-day operations of such facilities would be unable to function without the assurance of essential resources.
With confirmation in the airborne transmission of the disease, proper ventilation was identified as imperative.
Anesthetic equipment was repurposed to increase the number of ventilated hospital beds from 2,200 to more than 4,400 in a matter of six weeks. A formal review found that it was possible to increase capacity in available Intensive Care beds by more than 190%, but a surge in Covid patients would need a dramatic 250% increase for extra senior medical and nursing staff.
The demand for those working in healthcare had never been higher.
The demand on healthcare staff
It is more important than ever that Healthcare workers look after themselves and their physical and mental health during the stresses of Covid-19. The fact of having to provide healthcare in face-to-face situations amplifies the crucial nature of that care and the need for strict hygiene adherence.
This includes the mandatory wearing of face masks for all staff, doctors, and patients. These safety measures will be invoked for a long time yet.
The options regarding elective surgery have been a fluctuating concern for both healthcare providers and the relevant patients. The confusion led to an added stress, with some staff experiencing the brunt of patient frustration and, in some cases, verbal abuse.
The issue of stress and its ramifications have been felt right throughout the healthcare sector including special health services such as IVF.
The impact on additional health services from Covid-19
One of the areas that have seen an inadvertent change has been that of IVF and assisted reproductive measures.
The evidence of no clear transmission of Covid from mother to baby has been a relief for many couples during the more stressful times of Covid lockdowns and restrictions.
IVF has its own set of demands on the emotional and psychological well-being of those involved.
With the advent of travel restrictions and most especially that of international travel, those couples who were looking at IVF sex selection had a serious obstacle. The baby gender selection process involves genetic testing or sperm separation with embryos of the desired sex being implanted into the uterus. Whilst the measure is illegal in Australia, there is a loophole that allows Australians to travel to places such as the U.S. and Mexico to undergo the procedure there.
As international borders were closed, the ability to carry out this procedure was no longer possible.
Other issues such as inter-country adoption(ICA) and international commercial surrogacy (ICS) have also been greatly affected.
Covid-19 and the rise in mental healthcare and plastic surgery
While traditional healthcare has seen a drop in medical procedures and the growth of telehealth initiatives, there have been two other major changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mental healthcare has become a major priority as the stresses of social and economic impacts continue to be felt throughout the community. The sharp rise in mental health-related issues began in March 2020 with the introduction of the first Covid restrictions.
Like those looking to travel overseas to select the gender of their baby, people looking to engage in dental and cosmetic tourism were also impacted. There has been little to no possibility of travel for those seeking low-cost dental and medical services overseas in places like India, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea.
The effects of being forced to spend more time at home rippled through the community with some surprising implications.
With most of the workforce required or requested to work remotely and online teleconferencing becoming the norm, there has been a profound shift to personal appearance. Seeing one’s face constantly on-screen has had a clear effect on self-appraisal and exaggerated any perceived imperfections.
This has led to an increase in requests for plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. With no international option available, there is clear evidence of a surge in plastic surgery since the beginning of the pandemic.
Other affiliated medical and healthcare areas have also had to adapt to the many ups and downs in demand.
As is now apparent, the changes to the ways of working in healthcare during Covid-19 can be seen right across the spectrum. There is no sector that has been immune to the impacts of the disease.