If the coronavirus pandemic is making something clear, it is that Intensive Care beds are the cornerstone of any hospital. With one third of occupancy of covid patients In these units, hospitals already had to be forced weeks ago, and as happened in the first wave, to suspend operations so as not to occupy more intensive care beds.
The province of Alicante has a historical deficit of ICU beds that this health crisis has barely remedied. In fact, after the first wave, and according to sources from the province’s Intensive Medicine services, Only 17 beds have been enabled to structurally expand the ICU network of public hospitals, which previously had 145 beds, according to the reports of the ten public hospitals in the province. Twelve of these beds have been enabled by the Ministry of Health at the Marina Baixa Hospital and five have been created by the Vinalopó Hospital, privately managed. To comply with the demands of the Ministry of Health in the face of a second wave of the pandemic, this summer the Ministry prepared contingency plans in each hospital to double the number of beds to care for critical patients. An increase in beds that has been made in the vast majority by resorting to anesthesiology areas and only a small part by building new ICUs that remain once the pandemic passes.
If this growth had been done by expanding the current ICUs, hospitals in the province would have gained 128 more beds and the necessary investment would be around 16 million, taking into account the cost of the expansion at the Marina Baixa Hospital.
In this way the deficit of beds suffered by the province would have been remedied and would place it in the average of the beds that the OECD countries have and that is 15.9 beds per 100,000 inhabitants. Right now, the province has 8.8 beds per 100,000 inhabitants, insufficient to meet the needs of an increasingly aging population and hospitals that increasingly perform more complex operations that require the ICU for patients to recover.
«Resuscitation areas are being overloaded with covid patients and that will only lead us to suspend operations, as we saw in the spring. After the first wave, intensive care beds should have been increased so as not to see us again in this situation with the waiting lists skyrocketing, “he says. Victor Pedrera, General Secretary of the Medical Union in the Valencian Community.
Beds, and staff to take care of them. In the province of Alicante they work around fifty intensivist doctors, that like many other specialties suffer from a shortage of professionals. The Medical Union estimates that it would be necessary to increase the workforce in ICUs by at least 25% to provide proper care. Regarding nursing staff, despite the fact that all hospitals have received reinforcements in recent months, “these do not allow the recommended ratio of 1.5 covid patients to one nurse to be reached in practically any hospital in the province”, laments Carmen Flores, secretary of SATSE Trade Union Action.
For Rosa Atiénzar, Secretary General of the Federation of Health and Social Health Sectors of CC OO, “a precious opportunity has been lost to have remedied the deficit of beds and personnel in these services.” For Atiénzar, perhaps everything could not have been done in recent months between the two waves of the pandemic, “but one could have opted to stay ahead of the virus and have planned to incorporate specific items into the 2021 budgets, but nothing has been done. With the previous economic crisis, recalls the head of CC OO, 8,000 jobs were lost in Health, “which have not yet been recovered”, so she claims to the Ministry that the reinforcement contracts that have been made to fight against the covid “They are converted into structural positions to be able to partially alleviate this loss of professionals.”
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