The services of primary healthcare encourage the public to discern health resources in the community and utilise community resources to stay healthy. By doing so, people can be less dependent on public hospitals. Since every individual lives in the community, when facing a health crisis, the primary healthcare services can respond to the needs of the community promptly and allocate resources to help members there. As from the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019, HIA responds to different health needs in the community with various services.
Remote Services for COVID-19 Patients during Quarantine
The outbreak of the fifth wave of the epidemic was so challenging that the public healthcare system faces unprecedented pressure. Many confirmed COVID-19 patients were forced to stay at home, and they lacked the information needed to manage the condition because they could not go to the doctor. Therefore, their physical and mental health are suffering from the pandemic. In response to the urgent needs of the society, Health In Action Community Pharmacy launched “Remote Services for COVID-19 Patients during Quarantine” to connect people undergoing home quarantine with the medical-social transdisciplinary team of HIA. Pharmacists, Nurses, Social Workers, Dietitians, and Health Coaches of HIA could provide consultations for quarantine patients based on their symptoms, as well as to give medication instructions and caring for COVID-19 patients and so on. Remote services also allow patients to utilise community resources and focus on recovery when illness strikes.
Survey Investigating the Arrangements of Kwai Chung Estate During the Epidemic
The outbreak of the fifth wave of pandemic happened in December 2021 when Omicron variant spread in Hong Kong. The pandemic situation was severe especially in Kwai Chung Estate located in Kwai Tsing District, with over one hundred confirmed cases per day at peak. Regarding the epidemic development in Kwai Chung Estate, the government imposed different lockdown operations and restriction-testing declarations from 21 January, and many residential buildings in the Estate are implemented with lockdown. Among these buildings, Yat Kwai House and Ying Kwai House are under lockdown for seven days respectively, which is the longest duration of lockdown since the pandemic. During lockdown, residents are not allowed to leave the building except going downstairs to do compulsory testing. They have to rely on the allocations of daily necessities by the government. Kwai Chung Estate, all of a sudden, becomes an “isolated island at land” and the psychosocial and spiritual care of the residents are of great concern.
In light of that, HIA and Caritas Residents Mutual Help Centre – Kwai Chung investigated the effects of the lockdown on the residents of Kwai Chung Estate in the fifth wave of epidemic from 24 January to 28 January 2022 through anonymous surveys. It is found that they encountered several problems, for example, decrease in salaries and damage in physical and mental health. The results of the survey also show the extent of satisfaction towards the arrangement of the government, as well as the living and medical needs and opinions during the implementation of lockdown.
Providing Help for Residents Undergoing Kwai Chung Estate Lockdown
HIA provides support and help for residents in Kwai Chung Estate in response to the lockdown of some buildings in the estate. During lockdown, Health In Action Community Pharmacy launched a “Pharmacist Hotline: Remote Services for Quarantine People” which aims to answer the questions of residents regarding medication and health. HIA also launched a “Kwai Chung Estate Residents Mutual Help Group” to let residents exchange information and support one another to help cope with the feelings of loneliness during lockdown.
Emergency Relief Fund Programme
With the fifth wave of the pandemic, many people are suffering from the decrease of salaries. Factors like lockdowns, compulsory quarantine, or infection lead to underemployment and forced unpaid leave or even unemployment. In light of that, thanks to the generous donations of individuals, HIA launched the Emergency Relief Fund Programme to provide one-off emergency grants for affected people to tide over their financial hardship.
Self-help Guide for Staying at Home during the Epidemic
Since the Omicron pandemic spreads all of a sudden, many people are at a loss after being infected, as well as worrying about the situation of the infected elderly and children. The lack of information adds a burden of fear and helplessness to the citizens towards the pandemic. Therefore, the transdisciplinary team of HIA launched a Facebook live, explaining to the public about the Omicron variants and ways to handle infection. This aims to help everyone re-achieve health during the pandemic and help oneself during the pandemic.