Response to COVID-19

Pequeno Príncipe’s actions were structured in four areas: protection, prevention, health assistance and research.

Protection, prevention and health assistance
In terms of protection and prevention, measures were adopted such as the temporary suspension of educational activities, volunteering, visits and events, avoiding the increase in the circulation of people within the Hospital facilities. Employees were instructed not to hold face-to-face meetings to avoid crowds. The use of gel alcohol and other protective equipment was intensified. Consultations and elective surgeries (which are not urgent) were temporarily postponed, with the aim of also reducing the flow of people within the institution.

With regard to care, the Pequeno Príncipe was structured by allocating an ICU with ten exclusive beds for patients with COVID-19. In addition, a hospitalization floor, with 24 rooms, which can accommodate up to two beds each, totaling 48 spaces, was also devoted exclusively for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Until the end of July, Pequeno Príncipe assisted 380 children and adolescents with suspected COVID-19, 56 of which were confirmed. Click here to access the updated COVID-19 Report.

For the many teams that are on the front line, from security guards and receptionists to nurses and doctors, hundreds of hours of training were offered, reinforcing good practices to prevent the spread of the virus, teach self-care and welcome and clarify doubts in each sector of the Hospital.

In order to speed up the confirmation of diagnoses safely, the Pequeno Príncipe Genomic Lab – which part of the resources for its implantation was raised through the Pequeno Príncipe Gala Project – started to perform the RT-PCR exam. The serological exams and the Rapid Tests, in its turn, are performed by the Clinical Analysis Laboratory. The imaging exams that the institution performs also complemented the evaluations and follow-up of patients.

In addition to treating COVID-19 cases, the Hospital continues to provide care in its 32 specialties. To this end, care flows were created that separate patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection (SARS-CoV-2) from the others, thus ensuring everyone’s safety.

Increase in costs and annual deficit
Considering 16 items among those on the list of the most used in the care of patients with coronavirus (suspected or confirmed), the Pequeno Príncipe Hospital used to spend about US$ 13 thousand per month. With the rise in prices and the increase in consumption in the first months of the pandemic, monthly spending almost tripled, exceeding US$ 34 thousand.

Some personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks, for example, had their price increased almost 11 times, from US$ 0.35 to US$ 3.98. Consumption also increased a lot, going from 90 to 1,000 units per month.

Check the table for other items that had overvalued and increased consumption:

The Pequeno Príncipe Hospital began to prepare for coping with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in January. While the health teams were working on planning new protocols and measures for prevention, protection and assistance to patients and employees, the administrative team was beginning to feel the logistical and financial impact of the pandemic, with the lack and the high price of personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies, materials and medicines needed for this confrontation, some exceeding 4,000%.

It was also necessary to hire staff to replace the approximately 100 employees from the risk group who were removed. By the end of July, another 156 employees were dismissed for being infected with the coronavirus, since the pandemic is in the phase of community transmission.

The increase in prices and material consumption, the need for reinforcement in the teams and the temporary suspension of consultations and elective surgeries should leave a deficit of approximately US$ 4 million to Pequeno Príncipe, which will be added to the already annual deficits of about US$ 9 million caused by underfunding in the health sector and lack of financial incentives for research in Brazil.

Research projects
One of the great challenges of the current health crisis is to understand how the new coronavirus  works. The research teams of the Pelé Pequeno Príncipe Research Institute are committed to contributing to the worldwide knowledge about SARS-CoV-2, engaging in different lines of research, which require investments of approximately US$ 1.5 million, and which they will certainly bring significant knowledge to advance the understanding of the new disease.

This knowledge will allow infected patients to receive early diagnosis, adequate treatment and care for possible sequelae left by the infection. One of the treatment possibilities for severe cases is being studied at the Research Institute, with the development of antibodies produced in horses, which are later transformed into a treatment that promotes passive immunization of critically ill patients. Vaccines and passive immunization for those who are already infected are the great hope for effective protection against COVID-19 and for the treatment of severe cases.

Another group of researchers is part of the “COVID Human Genetic Effort” project, a worldwide effort led by scientists, who are investigating the relationship between COVID-19 and genetic issues. There are also studies that propose new treatments using stem cells, more accessible diagnostic tests and also post-infection monitoring, to identify and offer treatment for possible neurological sequelae. Besides that, are also being studied the developments of the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, which has been affecting children worldwide.