Scaling up ICU capacity not possible, healthcare experts say
Healthcare experts said increasing the ICU capacity above a maximum of 1,350 beds is impossible, NOS reported. Earlier this week, the RIVM cautioned that a rise in Covid-19 patients could overload hospitals again as temperatures begin to drop.
"It is irresponsible and impossible. We have a very high absenteeism rate. Many nurses are leaving the ICU and the rest of healthcare as well," chair of the professional association for Nurse & Caregivers Netherlands (V&VN) Bianca Buurman said.
Although the healthcare system scaled up its ICU capacity last year, staff shortages in the healthcare sector will not allow for more than 1,350 ICU beds this year, according to Buurman.
If the current coronavirus measures remain unchanged, the RIVM expected between 180 to 400 Covid-19 patients in the ICU this winter, with the peak predicted to be around mid-January.
"The predictions are fully theoretical with a high degree of uncertainty. At the moment, it is much quieter in the hospitals," chair of National Acute Care Network (LNAZ) Ernst Kuipers tod NOS. The vast majority of hospitals will be able to brave the winter without changes to their regular care. Yet, around 15 percent will have to modify their standard care, according to Kuipers.
Patients at the Isala hospital in Zwolle had to be transferred this week to another care center in the region of Rotterdam. The rising number of Covid-19 patients in the area also caused the hospital to scale down their regular care.
Another possibility would be to transfer Covid-19 patients across the border to German hospitals, as was done a few times last year. "The German government and hospitals are ready to help us if needed," Kuipers said. The LNAZ chair said that the Netherlands will not wait to transfer patients to Germany until hospitals are entirely full this year.