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עמוד בית
Fri, 21.06.24

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

IMAJ | volume 24

Journal 9, September 2022
pages: 564-569

Where Did the Patients Go? The IDF Medical Corps Medical Services Experience during the COVID-19 Outbreak: Lessons Learned

1Medical Corps, Surgeon General's Headquarters, Israel Defense Forces, Ramat Gan, Israel 2Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel 3Department of Military Medicine, Hadassah Medical Organization and Faculty of Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel 4Department of Ophthalmology, Rabin Medical Center (Beilinson Campus), Petah Tikva, Israel 5Trauma and Combat Medicine Branch, Surgeon General's Headquarters, Israel Defense Forces, Ramat Gan, Israel 6Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, Bar-Ilan University, Safed, Israel 7Department of Internal Medicine E, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel 8Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Summary

Background:

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) led to two nationwide lockdowns in Israel, reducing both supply and demand for medical services in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). IDF soldiers serve on bases within Israel, and most of them return home at the end of the day, similar to other armies in the world.

Objectives:

To analyze the health services provided by the IDF with regard to policy changes during lockdowns.

Methods:

We compared medical encounters between different services provided by the IDF Medical Corps. We related them to specific time periods: pre-first lockdown, first lockdown (and corresponding timeframes of the previous 3 years), between lockdowns, second lockdown, and post-second lockdown.

Results:

Compared to past periods, we found a similar reduction of 27–30% in primary care medical encounter rates during the two lockdowns: 42–43% in sick days and 50–54% in referrals to the emergency department. Referral rates to all specialist medical encounters and elective surgeries decreased significantly during the first lockdown period and increased 1.2–3.5 times during the second lockdown.

Conclusions:

A continuance of the shift to telehealth is required to withstand a future lockdown, with a full supply of secondary medical services attuned to core medical issues relevant for combat personnel. A liberal sick leave policy is required to eliminate unnecessary in-person visits, thus reducing the risk of infection.

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