Culture barriers challenge doctors treating foreign Covid-19 patients

By Thuy Quynh, Chi Le   April 11, 2020 | 05:55 pm PT
Culture barriers challenge doctors treating foreign Covid-19 patients
A British Covid-19 patient is put on ventilator at the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, March 24, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
A senior doctor in Hanoi says cultural barriers make it difficult to feed and treat foreign Covid-19 patients.

Nguyen Trung Cap, Head of the Emergency Department at the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, said preparing a meal that fits foreigners’ tastes while trying to maintain a balanced diet for them was not easy.

He also said that several foreign patients have not cooperated with the doctors at the beginning of hospitalization and some have even refused Vietnam's treatment methods due to cultural differences.

Cap cited "Patient 237" as an example. The 64-year-old Swedish man with blood cancer, who’d been traveling in Vietnam since last December, refused to cooperate with local authorities after learning he’d contracted the virus.

"We had to try to convince the patient to cooperate with us," Cap said, recalling the time when the patient was transferred to his department. The Swedish recovered and was discharged from Friday.

"Similarly, we tried to persuade the patient into letting us carry out the Vietnamese treatment. If a patient refuses this method and rejects taking medicines prescribed by us, we have to find another treatment method."

Hanoi's National Hospital of Tropical Diseases has been treating the most of 258 Covid-19 cases recorded in Vietnam so far, with dozens of cases still under treatment.

Do Thi Phuong Mai, Deputy Director of the General Bacterial Infection Department in the same hospital, said bed-ridden patients have to be bathed daily to protect them from developing rashes.

"Foreign patients are big, which makes bathing them more difficult, requiring at least two people," Mai said.

Cap said that the hospital had earlier treated just five Covid-19 patients who’d returned from Wuhan at the beginning of the outbreak. Since these patients were mostly young people and fully cooperated with the doctors, the treatment process was smooth.

But among the new waves of patients, many are elderly people who suffer from underlying medical conditions, and treating them is a greater challenge.

Cap cited the case of an 88-year-old woman who has suffered a stroke and is bedridden, "Patient 161," saying such people are "harder hit by the virus." 

Vietnam has 114 active cases of Covid-19 as of Sunday, 12 have tested negative twice and 13 once.

The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed more than 108,700 lives as it spread to 210 countries and territories.

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