Hospitals preparing for 'code black' behind the scenes: ICU leader
Behind the scenes, Dutch hospitals are already preparing for a new coronavirus peak from mid-March, scaling up the number of intensive care beds available and also putting plans and protocols in place in case "code black" is reached, Diederik Gommers of the acute care network NVIC said in the Ask Gommers podcast, BNR reports. "Code black" is when hospitals no longer have enough room to treat everyone.
According to Gommers, hospitals are working on expanding their ICU beds from 1,350 nationwide to 1,700. While there is still much uncertainty about the impact of new strains of the coronavirus, the expectation is that there will be another peak in Covid-19 infections in mid-March, and hospitals want to be ready, he said.
"The rooms are there, the equipment is there, all schedules are made and people are also asked whether they want to work longer hours," Gommers said. Hospitals are also calling on former ICU nurses to temporarily resume their old professions. "And if things go even faster than we hope, then all protocols are also ready for phase three, 'code black', if we are in danger of overflowing."
According to Gommers, it is vital to have schedules and protocols already in place if code black is reached, so that there isn't a scramble when patients are waiting. The protocols take into account the need for extra beds and a tent for first aid. "We're asking people if they want to join a triage team, if it comes to that. That feels strange, but it is good that you have time to prepare well. In the unlikely event that we end up in that situation, it will not be because of preparation," he said.
Gommers agrees with the government that the best way to prevent a code black situation is getting people vaccinated as soon as possible. "[Health Minister] Hugo de Jonge has also said that: we have to ensure that people are vaccinated more quickly, in order to keep that British variant out." There are concerns that the vaccines won't work as well on some of the new variants, including the one first identified in South Africa. "If hat is the case, then we must pay close attention to whether there are Dutch people with that variant. And if those people are found, they have to be quarantined incredibly well," Gommers said.