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Work of hospitals, clinics and pharmacies

Health services

If my doctor´s appointment has been cancelled – how can I find out about it and what should I do?

  • If you had an appointment with a specialist but the appointment was cancelled due to the coronavirus, the health care institution will contact you. Please be available to answer the phone call, don´t forget to charge your phone.

  • If possible, a telephone or a video consultation will be offered. If it is not possible, the doctor or the health care institution will give you a new appointment.

NB! If you are given a new appointment, the health care institution cannot invoice the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. Treatment invoices can be checked from the patient portal digilugu.ee.

How can a foreigner get health advice in English if they do not have a family doctor in Estonia?

The family doctor's consultation hotline 1220 (landline +372 6346 630) offers advice in case of ordinary health problems, instructions for first aid, and information on health care organisation in Estonian, English, and Russian. English language service is available every day from 3pm to 5pm.

Due to the current situation, when calling the hotline number 1220, the usual charge of 30 cents per minute is not added.

How are private health care providers remunerated if they have gone to help the hospitals?

All health care workers who are providing assistance due to the increased need will be remunerated on an equal basis. Remuneration will be agreed as appropriate, based on an hospital contract, a general medical care contract, or other.

Where should a foreigner who does not have a family doctor in Estonia turn to for a corona test?

A foreigner staying in Estonia, as well as everyone else who does not have a family doctor needs to turn to the closest family medicine centre. The family doctor there will then decide whether a corona test is necessary or not.

Turning to a doctor with acute symptoms of any respiratory disease has been equated with emergency care and this is paid for by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.


Turn to your family doctor only if it is necessary

 

Because of the spread of the coronavirus, many of us are anxious and the work load of family doctors has grown. If possible, avoid turning to the doctor so that those who really need help would get the attention of the doctor.


Don’t buy up a massive amount of over-the-counter medicines

 

There is no reason to suspect that the pharmacies’ stocks of over-the-counter medicines will run out, so it is not necessary to buy up medicines that you currently do not need to use.


Keep a distance with the pharmacist

 

If you are turning to a pharmacist, keep the maximum distance possible and follow the rules of hygiene (turn your face away when you sneeze or cough and cover your nose and mouth with your hand).

 

Family doctor

I have tried contacting my family physician/specialist physician for renewing my prescription, but I cannot get hold of them. What should I do?

Your first contact for any health problems is your family physician, they can also renew most of the prescriptions prescribed by specialists physicians.

Please pay attention to the working hours of the clinic before calling, and be patient.

The phonelines might be busier than usual because a lot of people are ill – in addition to coronavirus, also other seasonal viruses are affecting people.

Some family physicians accept new prescription or prescription renewal requests by e-mail.

NB! Please do not delay your prescription request until your medication runs out – better renew the prescription a week or two early.

Health insurance

What kind of benefits (if any) befall to the medical staff and their family in case an employee suffers health damage or dies in the line of duty?

The state does not provide for any specific compensation in these circumstances. Medical professionals work according to the Employment Contracts Act and earn benefits according to their work contract, so it depends on agreements between employer and employee.

 

Pharmacys

Do pharmacies have to reorganise their work?

Of course pharmacies and pharmacists also have to do everything possible to reduce the risk of infection. It is necessary to protect pharmacists, but also front line medical workers and patients who come into the pharmacy. Standard measures of caution should be followed in pharmacies.

The virus spreads from person to person through droplet infection, mainly through a close contact with a person with a suspected infection who has symptoms characteristic to the infection, mainly a cough. A pharmacist must keep a distance with the client, when possible use protective gloves and when necessary a protective mask. It is also sensible to reorganise the work of the pharmacy: limit the free movement of people among the shelves, disinfect surfaces that are in frequent use, restrict several people entering at the same time etc.

Many pharmacies have already reorganised their work this way to reduce the risk of infection.

The web page of the Estonian Health Board contains all the guidelines that pharmacies have to base themselves on as well. https://www.terviseamet.ee/et/COVID-19-trukised.

The Agency of Medicines has also worked out recommendations in order to protect both the pharmacists and the patients: https://www.ravimiamet.ee/kkk-%E2%80%93-covid-19-ja-apteegid

Dental care

Are dentist receiving patients for planned treatments? What are the rules for dental care?

As of April 21, scheduled dental treatments are allowed again, many dental clinics have started making new appointments. The rules established due the emergency situation are still in force to prevent the spread of the infection.

When you arrive at the clinic, you must disinfect your hands, your temperature will be taken (using a contactless method), and you must also complete the COVID-19 health declaration.

If you have any signs of respiratory disease (cough, runny nose) and/or fever, you will not be able to go to the treatment.

Come to the appointment alone and on time, if possible. One person may accompany an underage patient or a person needing attendance. If you arrive earlier, you may be asked to wait outside the clinic, keeping the distance of at least 2-metres from other clients.

It is very important to use all the necessary precautions in the dental office, as the procedures result in continuous aerosol cloud covering all items within a radius of up to five metres. In such an environment, the risk of spreading infection is very high and the safety measures are stricter.

In case of acute dental pain, first consult your dentist, who can advise you by phone and, if necessary, prescribe medication or provide emergency treatment, if possible. You have the opportunity to contact the dental clinics who have a contract with the Estonian Health Insurance Fund for free emergency dental treatment - contacts can be found on the Health Insurance Fund webpage. Registration for appointments is necessary to ensure safety.

 

Private health institution

On what grounds has the Health Board resumed the scheduled treatments in private health care institutions?

On April 21, the Health Board authorised the gradual restoration of scheduled health care treatments as COVID-19 is showing a downward trend in Estonia and the need for continued scheduled treatment is high.

However, it is important to take into the account that the restoration of scheduled treatments will take place gradually, and the safety of patients and health care professionals is a priority - it is the responsibility of each health care institution. The appropriate instructions for hospitals and other health care institutions to resume planned treatments are available here.

The planned treatment was suspended in private health care institutions by the decision of the Health Board on 26 March. The purpose of this decision was to limit infectious contacts in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to ensure the most efficient use of personal protective equipment. It was also necessary to be prepared for a case where the help of the private health care professionals and the premises of private clinics would have been needed for coronavirus treatment. This was an emergency decision during the situation of crisis.

How will private clinics be compensated for the loss of income as a result of suspending scheduled treatments?

These private healthcare facilities that have a contract with the Estonian Health Insurance Fund need to turn to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and solve the financing issue in co-operation. The rest can use other measures being worked out by the state.

How many hospital beds are available in Estonia for the treatment of coronavirus patients?

In Estonian hospitals, there are enough beds for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

163 beds are available in infectious disease wards in negative pressure rooms. A negative pressure room has a special ventilation system where the transport of pathogens from the room by air is prevented. These rooms are available in five hospitals: West-Tallinn Central Hospital Infectious Diseases Clinic (100), Pärnu Hospital (20), Narva Hospital (20), Ida-Viru Central Hospital (12) and Tartu University Clinic (11).

There are total of 191 intensive care beds In Estonia, if necessary, it is possible to increase their number to 500. Total number of beds in hospitals is 5,300. If necessary, additional active and intensive care beds can be established when using the capacity of the Estonian Defence Forces field hospital (20 intensive care beds, and 40 general beds).

There are about 300 ventilators available in hospitals. Estonia also participates in the joint procurement of the European Union, where it is possible to purchase both personal protective equipment and ventilators, if need arises.

 

Last updated: 6 July 2020