Health station.

COVID-19 puts strain on health care and social services – urgent care secured

Coronavirus infections currently pose major challenges to Helsinki’s health care and social services. However, clients’ access to urgent and necessary services and care is secured. At the moment, not all other services can be provided, or there are delays.

The transfer of staff to COVID-19 services causes a shortage of staff and affects the quality of services. However, we will do our utmost to ensure that our clients receive the services and care they need.

Health stations and dental care reduce non-urgent care

If the matter is not urgent, please wait for the COVID-19 situation to calm down before contacting your health station.

The callback for health stations will be restricted from 12 January to 13 February. The telephone service for health stations is open weekdays 8–16, but the numbers are only stored in the callback service between 8–12. The change regarding the callback does not apply to Ruoholahti and Kannelmäki Health Centers.

We hope that you will contact the health station after 13 February if the matter does not require treatment before then.

We will strive to accommodate appointments that have already been booked at health stations, but due to staff absences, these may also need to be rescheduled or cancelled. It is important to come to booked appointments if they have not been cancelled.

Whether it is a case of COVID-19 or a cold, people diagnosed with diseases that cause upper respiratory symptoms should stay at home during their illness. Guidance on home care of COVID-19 is available at Treatment of coronavirus and instructions for the infected (Finnish institute for health and welfare).

Available dental appointments have had to be reduced during the pandemic, which slows down access to treatment. Urgent cases, however, are treated without delay.

Not all school and student health care examinations can be carried out

The worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic and, at the same time, the reduced availability of staff are causing temporary difficulties for the activities of school and student health care. Some examinations will have to be postponed during the early part of the year, when school nurses administer COVID-19 vaccinations to the pupils.

The student health care system will not carry out, for example, the health examinations of students in the first year of upper secondary education or the Defence Forces preinduction physical examination.

Mechelininkatu’s centralised student health care services can partially secure acute services, such as vaccinations, support in mental health issues, birth control and post-coital contraception services, if necessary, as well as urgent infectious diseases surveys.

People with disabilities asked to reconsider participation in work and day activities

The worsening pandemic situation also challenges the safe organisation of services for work and daytime activities.

The work and day activities for persons with disabilities are open, but we recommend that each client consider the possibility to opt out of the service on their own initiative if the situation at home allows it. We will inform clients and their families about this in more detail.

Service centres for the elderly, day activities and group activities closed

Due to the development of the pandemic, day activities and supported group activities for the elderly have been closed since the end of December. Service centres are also currently closed. The client helplines of service centres are open normally.

Alternative ways are sought to provide services to clients most in need. These clients are personally contacted.

Short-term care places will also be reduced in accordance with a separate plan.

Support for services for the elderly is available at Seniori-info by telephone from Monday to Friday at 9:00–15:00, tel. 09 310 44556, www.hel.fi/seniorit (in Finnish).

Some home care client visits postponed

The COVID-19 situation also temporarily complicates the operation of home care. Not all client visits can be completed as planned at the moment. Client visits may need to be shortened or postponed.

Additional help from family and friends is important and welcome for home care clients.

Visits to senior centres, assisted living facilities, care homes and housing units for people with disabilities restricted

New visiting guidelines were introduced at the turn of the year. A resident cannot have more than two visitors at a time and once a day. There is no time limit per visit.

Visits must always be arranged in advance with the staff of the unit, at the latest the day before. We hope you will understand that not all requests to visit can always be fulfilled.

Nurses receive the visitors outside or at an agreed location. Visits take place in the resident’s room or in a separate visiting space. Visitors are not allowed to move around the building or the unit. Only visit if you are in good health.

Hospital visits prohibited – visits to hospice patients allowed

Indoor visits by relatives and friends to Helsinki hospitals are currently prohibited. The ban on visits is in force until further notice. The ban applies to Laakso, Malmi and Suursuo hospitals and to Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

Patients can be visited outdoors during this time. You can ask about your family member’s health and how they have been doing by phone. Visits are being prohibited in order to protect the patients and staff from COVID-19 infection.

Visits to hospice patients and seriously ill patients, on the other hand, are allowed. Visitors must not have COVID-19, be quarantined or have even the slightest respiratory symptoms. Visits must be agreed upon in advance with the staff. Visitors must wear a face mask and ensure good hand hygiene and adequate safety distances.

Delay in substance abuse services

There is also a delay in substance abuse services because staff have been transferred to perform COVID-19 related duties.

Vuosaari substance abuse services are being reduced. For example, walk-in appointments are not available for the time being. Clients will be directed to Malmi, Kalasatama or Laakso.

Mieppi helps with mental health issues at a low threshold

Mental health services are mainly operating normally. Discussion therapy is available, but the reduction in non-urgent health station services also affects the availability of medical services in mental health matters.

Clients are encouraged to take advantage of the low-threshold Mieppi services as the health stations are so busy.

Informing of changes

We will inform Helsinki residents about future service changes. We apologise for the situation.

Photo: Virpi Velin

Updated 12.1., 19.1. and 31.1.