Hospitals say autumn coronavirus wave could delay regular care
Experts say a coronavirus wave in the autumn and winter months could once again hinder hospitals' regular operations, including surgeries and other scheduled care, according to the AD. This consensus comes as a new round of Covid vaccinations has just been scheduled for September.
Virologist Marion Koopmans predicts the number of hospitalized people will not compare with previous waves of the pandemic. However, "coronavirus continues to burden the healthcare system," she told the AD.
Staffing problems in hospitals also pose a concern, as the health sector is currently struggling with massive staff shortages. Mark Kramer, chairman of the National Network Acute Care (LNAZ), highlighted that care institutions are preparing for a possibly difficult fall and winter. "We have to take into account that not every care demand can be met this winter either," he said. He added that hospitals cannot simply open a "can of staff."
Various options are being discussed to avoid overburdening intensive care units in hospital, according to the AD. For example, a Covid care expert group has recommended setting up beds in nursing homes to avoid coronavirus patients being transferred to hospitals, and some hospitals are proposing permanent Covid units. Some regions are making plans to centralize Covid care to ease the load of individual hospitals. Doctors at UMC Utrecht are currently testing remote sensor technology to monitor patients from afar.
However, there seems to be no concrete plan yet, Armand Girbes, ICU head of VUmc at Amsterdam UMC, told the AD. "I don't think we are well prepared for anything," he said. "There is no coordinating plan."
Kramer noted that the best thing individuals can do is to get vaccinated and quarantine if they are infected.