Suspected COVID case in Iraq requiring evacuation - navigating a complex case during a global pandemic

Suspected COVID Evacuation From Iraq

When a client’s employee became critically ill with COVID-19 in Iraq, our efficient coordination and focused case management, backed by a strong network of agents and providers, meant that we were able to navigate flight restrictions and limited hospital capacity to ensure life-saving care at a centre of excellence. All within just 49 hours of initial notification and during a time of unprecedented lockdowns around the world.

The whole story: As the world entered lockdown in April 2020, Healix were advised of a client’s Irish national employee with suspected COVID-19 who was deteriorating quickly and requiring urgent evacuation from Iraq.

As a suspected COVID-19 patient, securing entry into a country where the patient was a non-national was challenging. Nearby countries with better standards of medical care were ruled out due to current restrictions, and repatriation to Turkey and the UK – although not ideal due to the increased flight time – were the only options across the globe.

Our Turkish agent began liaising with the Ministry of Health and COVID hospitals within Istanbul, while our repatriation team attempted to secure a complex ICU admission in Ireland, during the first wave of the pandemic when critical care beds were at capacity.

At the same time, the team were tasked with finding an aircraft which could acquire landing permits into Iraq, have insurances to travel into such a warzone, an isolation POD for COVID-19 transfers and availability to move the patient within 24 hours to ensure the patient’s best chance of survival.

We needed to move within quickly to ensure the patient’s best chance of survival

The patient was deteriorating further and had been intubated and ventilated. Her red blood count was dangerously low, requiring blood products to maintain her condition, the supply of which couldn’t be guaranteed in Iraq.

Through persistence and last minute availability from a highly skilled and experienced provider, we secured the appropriate level of transfer to Ireland. We found an accepting hospital who agreed the transfer necessary and were able to allocate a bed.

The air ambulance provider, Healix and the employer (along with family) were aware of the high risk transfer due to take place. The essential use of the isolation POD while transferring an unstable, critical care patient increased the complexity of the transfer, but in this case there was no other viable option.

The transfer took place through the night. The patient was transferred to the ICU in Ireland via a ground transfer ambulance that was COVID-19 equipped and she was successfully handed over to the accepting team who could provide the necessary and lifesaving care.

From case opening to the patient arriving safely back in Ireland took just 49 hours. This quick-turnaround COVID evacuation would not have been possible without the expertise of the Healix teams and their professional partnerships with networked agents, providers and air ambulance companies. Even through the COVID pandemic, our aim is to deliver the best, innovative, bespoke care; whilst understanding risk and current global climate.

Find our more about our Medical Assistance and Air Ambulance & Medical Escort Repatriation services.