Irene Christen, our Managing Director, and Ardian Cetta, our Head of Care, answer the most pressing questions about COVID-19 vaccinations at cereneo.
What does the coronavirus situation currently look like in Switzerland, and how is the vaccine roll-out going?
Irene Christen: “We’re certainly not yet at the point where we can say that the situation has stabilised, and daily case numbers continue to be high. That’s why I firmly believe that extreme caution is still required. Our status as a rehabilitation clinic meant that we were provided with access to vaccines for our patients and employees in late March. We are extremely grateful for that, because we believe that this adds an extra layer of protection on top of the other measures that we have put in place. The wellbeing of our patients and employees is our top priority.”
How many employees and patients have been vaccinated to date?
Irene Christen: “As of today – 21 April – we have been able to vaccinate the majority of our patients and 64% of our clinical personnel have received either their first vaccination or in some cases both vaccinations. We’re delighted to have achieved such a high vaccination rate, particularly since it’s only been three weeks since we gained access to the vaccines.”
What does the high vaccination rate mean for the clinic?
Irene Christen: “It provides added security by building on the protective factors already in place. People have a fundamental need to feel safe, particularly during this pandemic era, and I believe that it is also important for our patients to feel safe so that they can complete their rehabilitation as successfully as possible and maximise their progress.“
What happens when new patients arrive from Switzerland or abroad?
Irene Christen: “As has been the case to date, new patients undergo a PCR test when they arrive at the clinic and must then self-isolate until we receive the result (which typically takes no longer than 24 36 hours). This allows us to provide a safe environment for our patients and employees. If a patient has not yet been vaccinated, our doctors offer tailored advice to the patient and to his or her relatives. If the patient then wishes to proceed with vaccination, we endeavour to organise this as quickly as possible. Since our patients almost always fall into the high-risk group, this does not typically present a problem.”
What do vaccinations mean on a day-to-day basis for the care personnel working within the clinic?
Ardian Cetta: “If I cast my mind back to February 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic first reached us in Switzerland, or April 2020, when Switzerland’s Federal Council declared an “extraordinary situation” in the country in accordance with the Epidemics Act, I can remember that every single one of us wanted nothing more than for an antidote or a vaccination to be found as quickly as possible.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many processes being put on hold for months, and mundane activities having to take a back seat. We were close to breaking point, and were constantly aware of the risk of becoming infected with coronavirus ourselves or infecting our patients at work.
For me personally, vaccination means safeguarding the provision of healthcare and reducing the negative health-related, mental and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
What do vaccinations mean for patients?
Ardian Cetta: “We know that high-risk groups are likely to experience particularly severe symptoms, and the majority of our patients fall into this category. Our most valuable tools in the fight against the disease are currently exposure control, or in other words avoiding contact with people who might transmit or be infected with coronavirus, and complying with the hygiene rules that are familiar to all of us – yet these tools are vastly inferior to the protection that vaccination can offer.
Vaccinated patients do not need to self-isolate for long periods when they first arrive at the clinic, and can instead benefit immediately from the rehabilitation programmes on offer. It is hard to imagine what becoming infected with COVID-19 might mean for our seriously ill patients, some of whom were not permitted close contact with their families for months on end before they were vaccinated. Vaccination therefore addresses one of our patients’ major concerns, and can help mitigate against the mental health impacts of isolation and loneliness.”
What are the current hygiene and safety regimes in the clinic, and have there been any changes in response to the vaccine roll-out?
Ardian Cetta: “The hygiene rules and code of conduct continue to play a vital role in our efforts to protect ourselves and others against coronavirus. We are following the recommendations issued by the Federal Office of Public Health, and will ensure that all of our restrictions and any relaxations are closely coordinated with the competent authorities. The safety of employees and patients will continue to be our top priority whenever we make adjustments to the rules.”