Enabling the evacuation of a COVID case in Iraq
As the world entered lockdown in 2020, Healix was alerted to an alarming case. A client’s Irish national employee was on assignment in Iraq and had fallen ill with a suspected case of COVID-19. The patient was deteriorating rapidly and required an urgent medical evacuation.
Securing entry into a country where the patient
was a non-national was challenging. Neighboring countries with higher standards of medical care were ruled out due to the current restrictions. It became clear that the only repatriation options were Turkey and the UK, which were less than ideal because of the increased flight time.
Our Turkish agent began liaising with the Ministry of Health, as well as COVID hospitals within Istanbul. Meanwhile, our repatriation team attempted to secure a complex ICU admission in Ireland. This was all taking place during the first wave of the pandemic, which meant critical care beds were at capacity.
We were also tasked with finding an aircraft equipped with a very specific list of requirements. It had to be able to acquire landing permits in Iraq, which meant it needed to meet the rigorous insurance standards mandated for travel into a warzone. An isolation POD for the COVID-19 transfer was also required, as well as the availability and capacity to move the patient within 24 hours. It was a long list, but this was the only way to ensure the patient’s best chance of survival.
As time passed, the patient was deteriorating further; she had been intubated and ventilated. Her red blood count was dangerously low, and she required blood products to maintain her condition. Unfortunately, access to the supply of these products couldn’t be guaranteed in Iraq.
Thanks to the unmatched persistence of our team, as well as the availability of a highly skilled and experienced provider, we secured the appropriate level of transfer to Ireland. We also found a hospital that agreed to the transfer and were able to accept the patient and allocate a bed.
In just 49 hours, we were able to:
- Navigate flight restrictions and severely limited hospital capacity
- Ensure life-saving care at a medical centre of excellence
- Execute diligent case management and coordination with a strong network of agents and providers
- Provide evacuation during a time of unprecedented worldwide lockdowns