• Vol. 49 No. 9, 652–660
  • 01 September 2020

Managing a Renal Transplant Programme During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Practical Experience from a Singapore Transplant Centre

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has significantly affected the way healthcare is delivered in Singapore. Healthcare services such as renal transplantation had to rapidly adjust and meet the needs to (1) protect patients and staff, (2) ramp up, conserve or redeploy resources while (3) ensuring that critical services remained operational. This paper aims to describe the experience of the renal transplant programme at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in responding to the risks and constraints posed by the pandemic. Methods and Materials: This is a review and summary of the SGH renal transplant programme’s policy and protocols that were either modified or developed in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Results: A multi-pronged approach was adopted to respond to the challenges of COVID-19. These included ensuring business continuity by splitting the transplant team into different locations, adopting video and tele-consults to minimise potential patient exposure to COVID-19, streamlining work processes using electronic forms, ensuring safe paths for patients who needed to come to hospital, ring-fencing and testing new inpatients at risk for COVID-19, enhancing precautionary measures for transplant surgery, ensuring a stable supply chain of immunosuppression, and sustaining patient and staff education programmes via video conferencing. Conclusions: Though the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced access to kidney transplantation, opportunities arose to adopt telemedicine into mainstream transplant practice as well as use electronic platforms to streamline work processes. Screening protocols were established to ensure that transplantation could be performed safely, while webinars reached out to empower patients to take precautions against COVID-19.


As infrastructure and policies were being put in place to combat COVID-19, we recognised that specialty-specific policies and protocols had to be drawn up as well. Similarly, the Renal Medicine Unit at the Singapore General Hospital, an academic medical centre, acted quickly to modify our services to (1) protect patients and staff, (2) ramp up, conserve
or redeploy resources while (3) ensuring that critical services remained operational.

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