”In the conditions of a pandemic, psychologists and psychiatrists can play an important role in supporting the well-being of the society “- Lasha Kiladze

In order to prevent the spread of possible cases of infection caused by the new corona virus (COVID-19) in the country, and in view of the state of emergency, the Center for Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction  went into emergency mode and developed a strategy to address one of the center Is involved.   Lasha Kiladze, General Director of the Center for Mental Health and  Prevention of Addiction, about the activities planned in this direction and the action plan of the Center under emergency conditions.

  •  How did your institution respond to the pandemic and what security measures were taken in this regard?

The safety of staff and beneficiaries is an essential part of our strategy, which is why an organizational group was set up at the facility as soon as the state of emergency was declared, tasked with separating high-risk groups from the center staff and moving them remotely. And for those personnel whose presence in the facility is necessary for uninterrupted work, a special work schedule has been drawn up and they are served by the transport provided by the organization. As a result, all medical services provided by the center prior to the emergency, including psychiatric inpatient and community outpatient services, continue to operate in compliance with safety regulations. The Center is guided by existing standards in infectious disease management, as well as country-recognized guidelines, instructions and recommendations in the event of a pandemic. Staff and patients are instructed periodically to prevent the spread of the new corona virus; The staff is equipped with disposable coats, hats, turbans, buckles, protective shields, gloves; The departments are provided with hand and surface disinfectants, the frequency of disinfection works is determined, the cleaning rule is determined; The outer surface of the transports is treated with a disinfectant solution; The disinfection service carries out the planned disinfection of the institution.

  • During a pandemic, inpatient services are also switched to emergency mode, often the institution quarantines, what is the center’s approach in this regard?

The rules of departure, movement and meetings in the psychiatric and addiction hospitals of our institution have changed. Additionally, a meeting room for the patient’s family member / supporter and the doctor was allocated. All patients are provided with telephone mobile communication; Patients are provided with information on preventing the spread of the virus in a language they understand and visualize; As well as information on the state of emergency and restrictions in the country; Patients’ physical activity is encouraged in the wards; More attention is being paid to developing patients’ personal hygiene skills, especially in the elderly. Disinfection works are carried out with increased intensity; Placement of a new patient is allowed only on the basis of a special examination. In case of referral to the reception department, the questionnaire of the epidemiological anamnesis is filled out, thermoscreening is carried out, if necessary, the risk of the condition and the spread of the infection is assessed with the involvement of various specialists.

  • Are there any outpatient changes?

Explosions of infectious diseases such as the new coronavirus COVID-19 cause fear and uncertainty in the population. Psychologists and psychiatrists can play an important role in supporting the well-being of patients and their families, healthcare staff and the general public. In the context of epidemiological restrictions in the country, outpatient services are provided with a 2-month supply of medicines. However, the beneficiaries have active telephone communication with the nursing staff. In order to avoid queues in the replacement therapy units and to reduce daily commuting, the beneficiaries of the program were given the right to take the medication once for 5 days by the decision of the Ministry of Health. Upon the declaration of the state of emergency, the beneficiaries were sent with the indication of special pass hours so that they could report to the department and receive the medicine without any delay. The center continuously provides the necessary medicines to the beneficiaries living in the quarantine regions by providing them with the necessary medicines on the spot.

  • In addition to online services, the center also provides other services to the population under quarantine conditions, tell us about it

The Center for Mental Health and  Prevention of Addiction is actively involved in providing psychiatric and drug services to quarantined people in the context of the spread of the new coronavirus in the country. The contact phone number of Professor Davit Zurabashvili has been handed over to the Emergency Management Service. Upon call, the psychiatrist will consult the patient on the spot. Beneficiaries of substitution therapy services are also provided with continuous medication in quarantine and closed zones. In addition, a quarantined person requesting medical assistance from a narcologist will be consulted on the spot by our center narcologist and, if necessary, will be included in the program on the spot and will be provided with a replacement dose of the replacement drug prescribed by the narcologist. Under quarantine, to date, 158 citizens have joined the program with our staff on-site service. During the emergency, special problems are encountered by the staff of the institutions, who have to stay in shifts for a long period of time (1 week or more) and interact with the beneficiaries on a daily basis, while being away from their families. International experience shows that more support for mental health institutions is recommended for such institutions during a pandemic, as rates of depression and anxiety increase and their alienation from society increases. During the global pandemic and quarantine restrictions in Georgia, the Center for Mental Health and Drug Prevention provides remote assistance to the victims of trafficking in human beings, the victims of two territorial units of the State Fund for Protection and Assistance, namely Martkopi and Dusheti disabled people. Involved staff through telephone and online consultation with psychologists and psychiatrists. In general, during a pandemic, citizens are under some stress, find it difficult to cope independently with viral panic attacks, all people need psychological support, which is why our center psychologists offer free consultations to the population every day, in the evening. At the initiative of the Center, an online platform has been launched, where anyone can receive a free online consultation with a psychologist and psychiatrist from 7 pm to 10 pm (www.addiction.ge)