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Volunteer village clinics help with COVID wave

By Jiang Chenglong in Beijing and Yang Jun in Guiyang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-21 08:54
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Mo Jinda, an expert from the People's Hospital of Sandu Sui autonomous county, takes a woman's blood pressure in a village in Sandu, Guizhou province, on Jan 6, during a door-to-door medical treatment session. CHINA DAILY

Pop-up initiative in Guizhou to be extended throughout the year

Nothing is more helpful than convenient medical services while the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 rages across China, especially in rural areas where millions of villagers are in need of medicines and knowledge.

Since the beginning of the year, shortly after the COVID-19 control policies were optimized, a series of volunteer clinical treatments set up by a grassroots hospital in six villages in southwestern China have helped 1,000 residents, particularly in dealing with COVID-19.

Last month, the People's Hospital of Sandu Sui autonomous county in Guizhou province carried out six rounds of free door-to-door medical treatment in villages fighting against the aggressive surge of Omicron. Most of those infected were elderly.

"The volunteer program organized before Spring Festival mainly targeted COVID-19 treatment and recovery in rural areas, so that villagers could be diagnosed and treated on their doorsteps and enjoy a tranquil holiday," said Jiang Xijun, Party secretary of the county-level hospital.

Residents of Shuiwei village were the first to receive treatment. In the village with a population of 4,000, nearly 200 are 65 and older.

Normally, there are only three doctors in the village, but during the program, a team of 10 doctors with various specializations offered five hours of medical services at a basketball court, according to Zhang Xianfeng, a hospital official in charge of the volunteer program.

After being infected by COVID-19, 86-year-old Pan Yi experienced a variety of symptoms, including body aches and loss of appetite, but didn't have a fever. After conducting examinations, including temperature and blood-oxygen saturation, a doctor from the team prescribed him medicines to relieve symptoms.

"Our doctors have taught villagers, especially the elderly, to cope with different symptoms, to improve their diet to enhance their immunity and to slow the spread of COVID-19 in their families," Zhang said.

Fu Xiaoyun, head of the hospital, visits a sick senior during the treatment session. CHINA DAILY

The initial round of volunteer clinics is only the beginning.

"Our hospital will run 15 volunteer clinics in villages every year. Each will last four to five hours, with around 10 of our doctors present," Zhang said.

He said that the initiative revealed that most elderly people had serious COVID-19 symptoms, especially those who had preexisting conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

He added that another priority was to publicize basic COVID-19 information and health tips in order to relieve pressure and anxiety caused by fear of the highly-transmissible virus.

For the next phase, the hospital will send more medical workers to villages to find out the actual needs of residents, Zhang said, adding that they would also strengthen communications with grassroots doctors and provide better training.

Shi Yixun, one of the three doctors based in Shuiwei, is quite familiar with many elderly residents' health conditions. After receiving patients' calls, she delivers medicine to their homes. "We stock 80 kinds of regular medicine to ensure villagers' needs are met," she said.

The county hospital and the village clinic have maintained contact all the time, according to the village leader, Wei Zuli. They have created a WeChat group to enhance connections so that critical patients in the village are able to get treatment in time, Wei said.

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