ICU staff stressed and overworked in coronacrisis

Where ICU nurses normally care for two patients at a time, they are now caring for three or even four during the coronavirus, Diederik Gommers of the intensive care association NVIC said in a briefing to parliament on Wednesday. "That is stressful. The nurses feel the pressure. They feel the stress that they are not in control, that if they make mistakes, patients die," Gommers said, reports.

Gommers explained the ICU capacity of the Netherlands to parliament on Wednesday. The Netherlands normally has 1,150 intensive care beds. The country is now in the "second phase", in which the number of ICU beds are scaled up to 2,400. That means that intensive care patients are also being treated in other hospital departments outside the intensive care units, putting even more pressure on ICU staff.

The hospitals collectively have until Monday to scale up the number of ICU beds to 2,400. When asked whether this is feasible, Gommers said that this is not even a question. "You can't not make it," he said. "We owe this to the population." 

If more than 2,400 ICU beds are needed, the Netherlands will be in a black scenario, Gommers said. "We don't know how to proceed further," Gommers said. Declaring that a crisis situation, is up to the Minister, he added. 

As of 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, there were 1,152 Covid-19 patients being treated in ICUs in the Netherlands. Around 500 beds are also used by patients with other illnesses. 

The NVIC chairman also said that respirators ordered from Philips cannot immediately be used. These respirators are designed for home use, and as they were intended for the American market, the oxygen connection of Dutch hospitals does not fit on the device. But these are solvable problems, Gommers said. A solution is currently being worked on. He expects that the respirators will be usable before the end of the week.