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World’s First Psychiatric Unit for COVID-19 Patients

Many psychiatric patients have difficulty following social distancing and other rules implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Sheba opened a dedicated unit for all psychiatric patients who test positive for the novel coronavirus.

As soon as medical professionals at Sheba Medical Center realized the need for a dedicated unit for psychiatric patients with COVID-19, an isolated ward was designed. On March 25, after one week of planning, the facility was opened.

“We are the first in the world to open a dedicated department of psychiatry for corona patients as part of our commitment to weaker populations,” said Prof. Mark Weiser, chief of psychiatry at Sheba. On March 26, a web-based press conference with participants joining from 19 countries was held to announce the opening.

Prof. Weiser, who oversees the 16-bed ward, explained that psychiatric patients find it particularly hard to maintain social distancing and other health regulations intended to prevent contagion. He cited the February incident at Chungdo Daenam Hospital in South Korea, in which an entire ward became infected, as an example of what Sheba is working to avoid.

The air ventilation system of the isolated psychiatric unit at Sheba was designed to be disconnected from the rest of the medical center. In addition, an advanced two-way communication system was installed. Patients can thereby speak with therapists and family members safely, without getting close.

With consideration for the diverse medical needs of all patients who test positive for COVID-19, Sheba also opened the first dedicated maternity unit in Israel, on March 31. The fully equipped ward includes an OB/GYN examination room, 10 beds, two labor and delivery rooms, one operating room for C-sections, and a nursery.