The Israeli Health Ministry is promoting the use of recovered coronavirus patients as volunteers in hospitals, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
In a letter to hospital directors around the country, Dr. Vered Ezra, head of the Medical Division of the Health Ministry, urged them to adopt a program pioneered by Hadassah-University Medical Center’s Ein Kerem campus in Yerushalayim, the first hospital anywhere to enlist former COVID patients to assist medical staff.
The Ministry did not release the August 2 letter from Dr. Ezra until Tuesday.
The volunteers, whose tests showed antibodies, are thought to have immunity to COVID-19, and it was deemed safe to have them visiting current COVID patients who are not permitted visitors due to the danger of contagion.
Approximately 30 volunteers were organized by the chareidi nonprofit Yad Avraham, and subsequently Ezer Mizion, to visit patients in moderate or serious condition who would otherwise be in isolation. They provide companionship and bring cell phones which patients can use to speak with friends and family.
As it has not been firmly established that recovered patients are immune to reinfection, the volunteers wear protective suits, are informed of the dangers and must give informed consent.
Hadassah said it would test the program for two months to determine its effectiveness. If successful, it hoped to recruit and train additional volunteers who could serve at other hospitals throughout the country.
A spokesperson from Hadassah said in a statement, “From experience and in light of Dr. Ezra’s letter, I strongly recommend that hospitals adopt the Hadassah volunteer model that arouses interest in hospitals around the world.”