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Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem became the first known hospital in the world to use recovered coronavirus patients to provide humanitarian support for those currently infected with the virus.
On Wednesday, the hospital launched a programme to allow these volunteers, who were organised with the help of the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) nonprofit Yad Avraham, to visit patients in moderate or serious condition who would otherwise be in isolation, the hospital explained. The volunteers provide personal food assistance, for example, bringing patients a cup of tea or just lending a listening ear. They are also given simple mobile phones, which they can allow sick patients to use to connect with their family and friends.
Prof. Zeev Rotstein, Director General of Hadassah, said that the hospital saw in the first wave how challenging it was for isolated patients to mentally cope with the situation. He said companionship is especially critical for elderly patients who are without family.
A recovered coronavirus patient assists a sick patient at Hadassah University Hospital
The volunteers all had coronavirus more than a month ago and after their recovery tested negative for the virus but positive for antibodies, meaning they are most likely immune to getting coronavirus again. In many cases, these are the same volunteers that donated plasma through Hadassah, which is being used to treat critically ill patients.
Volunteers enter the rooms with full personal protective suits and are informed of the risks.
Hadassah will test the programme for two months to determine its effectiveness. The hospital has stated that if the pilot programme is successful, it hopes to recruit additional volunteers who could serve at other hospitals throughout the country.