Think COVID-19 in everything you do, says health expert in Abu Dhabi

SSMC CEO
Professor Dr Nasser Ammash, CEO of Sheikh Shakbout Medical City, Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Accepting COVID-19 as an inevitable part of life, planning life’s schedules around the pandemic and continuing to transact daily business with proper protocols is the only way to live life in the “new normal”, according to Professor Dr Nasser Ammash, CEO of Sheikh Shakbout Medical City, Abu Dhabi.

Speaking on the sidelines of his lecture on how team effort and planning helped keep SSMC a COVID-19-free hospital, Dr Ammash narrated the challenge they faced. “We opened SSMC in January 2020 right in the beginning as the pandemic was unfolding. All of a sudden, we had to expand bed capacity by 200 beds, recruit more staff to deal with the situation. It is indeed the efficient planning and organistion of Abu Dhabi Health Services (SEHA) and Department of Health (DOH) that helped with pandemic control. It was due to the SEHA’s vision that SSMC, the largest tertiary hospital in Abu Dhabi, is COVID-19-free today. We took a lot of steps. For instance, as soon as the vaccine campaign was rolled out, nearly 90 per cent of our staff completed the vaccination doses in record time.”

Dr Ammash said each and every individual must not give up on life and activities but in the “new normal”, think COVID -19 first when planning anything.

“For the time-being, we have to co-exist with COVID-19 and while not giving up on the regular activities of our lives, we need to factor COVID-19 into it. This means we follow the protocols of social distancing, wearing masks, hand sanitising, not sharing phones or other objects and still managing everything else .”

Vaccine roll-out a great step

Dr Ammash said the vaccination roll-out played a very important role in instilling confidence in people. “We may still be away from the goal of achieving herd immunity but vast majority of the population has been vaccinated. This includes senior citizens, young adults and schoolgoing children too. Being vaccinated may not have eliminated the virus as we have new mutations and variants to deal with but it has reduced the rate of community transmissions and given us the confidence to venture out, work, travel and conduct our business in a cautious way. The risk is still there but the agility of our lives is important too,” remarked Dr Ammash.

Adults must lead by example

Dr Ammash’ advice to adults in the community is to educate children. “No one has had it tougher than children who have been unable to go to school, meet friends or play the normal way. But adults can take this opportunity to help lead by example. Instead of telling children to wear masks or wash hands, show them the right model of behaviour. If adults respect protocols and also rethink social activities and interaction with their children, the little ones will follow suit. Families have the opportunity to nurture new skills and talents in kids. They must make use of these times to bring out the best in children and the community.”