Helsinki issues new decisions affecting health care services, seniors and children

The City of Helsinki’s coronavirus coordination committee met on 17 March and decided on several new measures that will affect municipal health services and other activities.

The Malmi health care centre in northeast Helsinki will be repurposed into the city’s second coronavirus health care hub starting on 19 March. It will join the Laakso health care centre, which was the first clinic in the capital to be devoted to the specific treatment of coronavirus. Local residents normally served by the Malmi and Laakso locations will be redirected to other municipal health care centres accordingly. Note that the Malmi health care centre will be closed on 18 March in order to make the necessary alterations.

Increased support for concerned seniors and their loved ones

Information and counselling services for the elderly will also be expanded. Helsinki’s Senior-info phone and chat service will be open longer each day in order to better meet the needs of the senior population and their loved ones. Call tel. 09 310 44556 or go to www.hel.fi/seniorit to access the chat service from 9 am to 6 pm. Visitors to the website can also leave a message with their concerns. Note that the Senior-info service is currently available in Finnish and Swedish only.

Seniors over the age of 70 are advised to self-isolate and avoid contact with other people. It is good to remember the importance of staying active and practicing self-care, even if you are homebound. Helsinki highly recommends that everyone exercise and enjoy time outdoors during the next few weeks.

All visits to hospitals and assisting living facilities are now prohibited, in the interest of protecting at-risk groups. Loved ones are asked to stay in contact with patients and residents by telephone or other remote connections. Loved ones of people in palliative care should arrange their visits with staff ahead of time.

Non-urgent health care centre appointments cancelled, opening hours reduced

Non-urgent social and health care services will be cut back in Helsinki to ensure that urgent cases can be treated. All non-urgent appointments will therefore be cancelled, and customers will be informed of this individually.

Health care centre opening hours will be reduced starting on 18 March, and all evening opening hours will be cancelled. The health care centre in Helsinki’s Kalasatama district will stay open normally, and the city is prepared to extend the opening hours of the Malmi and Laakso coronavirus hubs, if this proves necessary.

Walk-in maternity clinics will be closed. Patients of these clinics will be duly informed if it is deemed necessary to cut back on operations. Parents and guardians are asked not to bring children who are ill to maternity clinics.

Changes in social and health care services on 17 March

Morning and afternoon care for schoolchildren will continue

On 18 March, the City of Helsinki complied with new policies enacted by the Finnish government and transitioned instruction in its schools from a face-to-face classroom setting to distance learning in pupils’ homes. Instruction in hospital schools will continue normally, however, with due regard for the circumstances.

Morning and afternoon care of children that takes place in Helsinki’s primary education facilities and playgrounds before and after the school day will continue for those children in grades 1-3 whose parents provide services deemed vital to society.

Morning and afternoon care will continue normally for children with special needs and children with disabilities.

Family houses closed

Indoor playground spaces will be closed to all other activities but organised clubs, beginning on 18 March. Clubs at these locations will continue to be held normally, but once again, the official recommendation is that all parents and guardians who are able to care for their children at home should do so, if possible. All outdoor playgrounds and play areas will remain open for use.

Helsinki’s network of family houses, which serve as meeting places for families with small children, will also close their doors for as long as schools are closed, beginning on 18 March. Locations include Family Houses Betania, Sahrami, Torpparinmäki, Naapuri and Kajuutta.