A hospital in Jerusalem is claiming to be the first in the world to be using people who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection to visit lonely people in hospital wards.
The isolation which includes separation from friends and family and only seeing medics in hazmat has been causing many patients to become severely depressed.
However the hospital is of the opinion that people who have recovered from the coronavirus can be allowed to visit them because they have enough antibodies and as result launched the new scheme 3 weeks ago.
Medics around the world have been examining to what extent immunity from infection continues after a person is cured, with several high-profile examples of people being reinfected months later.
Only this week, a medic in South Africa said he had a confirmed case of a patient who had been cleared and then was seemingly reinfected some 3 months later after again testing positive for the disease.
But that has not stopped the Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, which already has over 2 dozen volunteers and is looking for more who are prepared to accept the risk and offer to visit patients
One of the 25 who have so far signed up is Moshe Tauber, a 22-year-old survivor who said: “People were so excited the first time I walked in-“
He told the Times of Israel: “It lights up patients’ eyes when they see a visitor,” (https://bit.ly/2WSoYWf)
The young man does several hours on the ward a few times a week and added: “They were excited because people there don’t see anyone apart from staff, sometimes for weeks.”
He said he was motivated by the fact that Jewish tradition emphasises bikur holim which is visiting the sick which most people cannot do with COVID-10 sufferers.
The hospital’s head nurse Rely said: “People feel so lonely in the coronavirus department, and it’s a great help for patients, and also for staff, that visitors now come, hold patients’ hands, chat with them and keep them company.”
She added: “We believe this is the first place in the world this is happening, and we’re getting more and more calls from people offering to participate.”
All of the volunteers are first of tested to make sure they have the antibodies, and also asked to wear protective gear just to be on the safe side.
As well as talking to the elderly they also helping them with other things such as using mobile phones that they can speak to their relatives, something the older sufferers find particular useful.
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