The Nippon Foundation to Provide 5 Billion Yen Assistance to Hospitals Fighting COVID-19 [2020/06/01]
Media covering a “Doctor Car” that The Nippon Foundation will provide to emergency medical service hospitals taking care of COVID-19 patients.
Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for Tokyo and four other prefectures on May 25, following a noticeable decline in the number of novel coronavirus cases in the capital and other parts of the country. The state of emergency has now been lifted across the nation.
However, I believe firmly we need to prepare not only for a second and third wave of coronavirus infections with no vaccine or effective treatments developed yet, but also for a major disaster such as a huge earthquake, typhoon or other natural calamity hitting Japan simultaneously with a new outbreak of COVID-19.
Toward this goal, I announced at a press conference on May 26 that The Nippon Foundation will undertake a five billion yen, three-year initiative to financially support 139 emergency medical service hospitals now taking care of severely ill and high-risk patients across Japan.
Under the Fire Service Act, medical facilities in Japan are divided into three categories: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary-care facilities refer to clinics without beds that are assigned to treat patients with mild symptoms who can be safely discharged home, while secondary-care facilities are assigned to provide care for patients with moderate symptoms who require admission to a regular inpatient bed.
Tertiary-care facilities are emergency medical service centers, which are assigned to provide care for patients with severe, life-threatening symptoms who require admission to the intensive care unit and/or undergoing emergency surgery.
Out of some 300 tertiary-care facilities across Japan, the foundation plans to assist 139 Japanese Association for Acute Medicine (JAAM)-designated emergency medical service hospitals that are currently looking after coronavirus patients.
The foundation will start furnishing this assistance by the end of June based on requests hospitals submit to a third-party commission of experts for items they need. Already, we have chosen four hospitals−Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Medical Hospital (Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo), Nippon Medical School Tamanagayama Hospital (Tama City, Tokyo), Yokohama Rosai Hospital (Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture), and Saiseika Senri Hospital (Suita City, Osaka Prefecture)−to provide respirators and personal protective gear for medical professionals, as well as a “Doctor Car” (a.k.a. “rapid response car”) with a full inventory of medical equipment and supplies. I hope these hospitals serve as model cases for other institutions.
In early to mid-April when COVID-19 cases spiked in Japan, there was growing concern about the possible collapse of the nation’s healthcare system as doctors, nurses and medical staff came under heavy stress with a dire shortage of personal protective gear such as masks, gloves and gowns, and medical equipment.
To help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, The Nippon Foundation came up with its first initiative in April to set up a makeshift facility in Tokyo with up to 600 beds for patients with minor or no symptoms. Then, earlier this month, we unveiled a second project to help transport coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, and doctors and nurses working around the clock to combat COVID-19, to and from hospital. The latest initiative is thus the third in our series of responses to the pandemic.
Japan has so far been spared the kind of explosive surge seen in the United States, parts of Europe and Latin America, and elsewhere, with 16,968 cases and 898 deaths as of May 31, according to media reports.
I believe this is thanks to the efforts of Japanese people to reduce people-to-people contact, with a focus on avoiding the “three Cs”: closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings, and observe other guidelines issued by the central and local governments.
I told the press conference on May 26 that Japan will be commended highly by the international community for its efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Emergency medical services form an essential part of the nation’s response to major disasters, focusing on saving lives that can be saved. Through these efforts, I sincerely hope that we will be able to see what will become the “new normal” for emergency medical services: their preparedness to handle a natural disaster (or even multiple disasters) while also coping with a second or third wave of COVID-19.
Details of The Nippon Foundation’s first and second initiatives in response to the COVID-19 outbreak can be seen HERE:
A “Doctor Car” with a full inventory of medical equipment and supplies takes a team of doctors, nurses and paramedics to treat a patient prior to transport to a hospital.
The foundation will provide a “Doctor Car,” personal protective gear, medical equipment and other assistance to 139 JAAM-designated emergency medical service hospitals across Japan that are treating coronavirus patients.