Waiting for the COVID wave in Russia - EuroTimes

Waiting for the COVID wave in Russia

Boris Malyugin MD, PhD

Boris Malyugin MD, PhD is Professor and Deputy Director of Research and Development  and Education, at the S. Fyodorov Eye Microsurgery State Institution which has been designated by the Russian Health Ministry as a third-line clinic should it be needed to handle patient overflow as the pandemic progresses.

“We are in standby mode waiting for the wave to come and it is coming. The government is very anxious that it will be strong and high and is trying to concentrate on gathering the resources to fight the situation,” Dr Malyugin told EuroTimes.

Altogether his clinic and its 10 branches across Russia have 4,500 employees and normally do 320,000 surgeries annually, with 46,000 in Moscow. With patient visits limited mostly to emergency retinal, acute glaucoma and intravitreal injections, volume is down 70% on its way to 90%.

But standby doesn’t mean just standing around. Dr Malyugin has been preparing a plan for possibly seeing critically ill COVID-19 patients that is due to the health ministry this week. “We have some staff with critical care skills, especially anaesthesiologists, and emergency rooms with oxygen, but we have no ventilators or CT scanners that are also needed. We are not on the first line because we are not really equipped for that kind of care.”

Perhaps most important is developing the required skills in surgeons, nurses and other staff who might be needed. Health workers are urged to volunteer their services, but are not compelled. Dr Malyugin is taking an online course in critical care that will certify him to help out.

Online education will also partially replace courses at medical meetings cancelled across Russia,  Dr Malyugin said. He sees this an opportunity for busy doctors to educate themselves online, but believes late-year residents will miss some training. Research and clinical trials are on hold for the duration as well.

Dr Malyugin expects the disruption will last months, but plans to do what he can. “I am not immune and I try to do my best to protect myself. I almost stopped doing surgeries, and I am trying to be as safe as possible, but that is not a guarantee.”

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