„We launched the home doctor's brigaade service in order to proovide parents with reassurance and faster help in the form of a medical examination, while also alleviating the multiplier load of an ambulance in connection with the corona,“ explained Deputy Mayor Betina Beškina. “On Friday and weekends, a home doctor can be called to all sick children in Tallinn, regardless of their actual place of residence. In particular, home doctor's care is intended for those children with acute health problems who do not need urgent care, but whose parents may have difficulty accessing a doctor or the recommendations received from the helpline may not be sufficient.”
Many families turn to the emergency medicine department of Tallinn Children's Hospital, especially from Friday to Sunday evening, when it is not possible to get in touch with a family doctor. While 65-70 children usually go to the hospital's admissions department every day, this number reached 90-120 on weekends and during the peak periods of illness. The annual reports of Tallinn Ambulance show that 62.4% of the 6324 visits made to children aged 0–12 during the year did not actually require an ambulance. However, medical advice and support for parents are important.
According to Beškina, the current practice shows that a home doctor is called mainly when the child's illness has lasted for more than five days, but it has not been possible to get to the family doctor. People have also sought help from the home doctor on the basis of a recommendation from the family doctor's helpline or if they have already tried an ambulance but the child's condition has not improved. A home doctor is also called if the child has sudden and severe catarrh symptoms and the parents are worried.
Most often, a doctor is called to 2.4-year-old children who have been ill for 4-5 days. Doctors can also issue prescriptions for medicines during a home visit, which has been done for one-fifth of the challenges.
The home doctor or pediatrician together with the Tallinn Ambulance Emergency Medicine Technician will make a home visit in a small car on Fridays and holidays from 2 pm to 10 pm. Up to 10 visits are accepted during the day, which is completed during the same day. The pilot project is financed from the budget of the city of Tallinn.
The GP team will initially work until the end of June. In July and August, the reception of home invitations is temporarily suspended, but from September, a home doctor can be invited for sick children again on Fridays and weekends.