Online chat rooms share Wuhan doctors’ experience with world

Medical staff record information of a patient at “fangcang” hospital in a cultural building complex dubbed “Wuhan Livingroom”, Feb. 9. (Photo by Li Han, People’s Daily)
Medical staff record information of a patient at “fangcang” hospital in a cultural building complex dubbed “Wuhan Livingroom”, Feb. 9. (Photo by Li Han, People’s Daily)

Ye Baixin, a doctor at a Wuhan hospital, had a busy schedule even during his quarantine. Every morning, his phone buzzes with nearly 100 messages from across the world.

“Anyone can share information on children patients of COVID-19?” reads one inquiry in a chatroom on the instant messaging app WeChat. “I wish to conduct a survey on the immunity of frontline medics (in the United States). Any suggestions from doctors in Wuhan?” read another comment from Boston.

Ye, a doctor at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, is the founder of four WeChat chatrooms dedicated to COVID-19 experience sharing. So far, they have drawn in more than 2,000 doctors, including some 400 doctors in China and more than 600 from the United States.

Compared with conventional academic exchanges, discussions in the chatrooms take place at any time, with doctors from diverse departments including ICU, infection, respiratory, cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, exchanging experience on COVID-19 prevention and control, clinical treatment plans and protection of medics.

Among them are several prominent figures in China’s fight against the novel coronavirus, including Zhang Wenhong, who heads Shanghai’s medical team to fight the epidemic.

“The pandemic has united doctors from across the world, and medical workers in Wuhan are proving to the world, with their actions, that the virus can be defeated,” Ye said.

As the epidemic subsides in the former hard-hit city, where only one confirmed case was reported in the past week, Ye said frontline medics in Wuhan are offering their experience to the world while boosting global morale.

Via video conferences, doctors in Wuhan have shared their COVID-19 treatment experience with universities and hospitals in several countries, including Israel, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Ye created the first group chat on March 22, when he was observing quarantine in Wuhan after returning from the United States as a visiting scholar. Dedicated to sharing experience on fighting the pandemic, the chatroom reached its 500-member cap within hours.

Three more rooms were opened amid the influx of American and European doctors. Tencent, the tech firm that runs WeChat, then helped Ye create a “corporate chat room” that allows more members to join.

With the help of a volunteer team from Wuhan University, Ye is now upgrading the chatrooms to include seminars and other academic exchanges.

On March 28, Zhang Jinnong, director of the emergency department at Wuhan Union Hospital, held a live talk in one chatroom. In fluent English, the veteran doctor recalled his personal struggle with the viral infection, gave advice on testing and treatment, and answered questions raised by his Northern American and European peers.

“The chatrooms, by gathering medical workers together, facilitated the faster spread of information,” Ye told Xinhua. “This is important, as time is precious in the global fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.” Enditem

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