Filomena arrived on Friday and in five days has made a dent in a health system already stressed by a third wave that reaches 627 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days and has its intensive care units at 90% occupancy.
All areas are experiencing the storm and to this is added a rising pandemic: clinics closed, analytical and PCR canceled due to the impossibility of transferring them to laboratories, staff doubling and tripling days because the relief could not arrive, in addition to emergencies full of fractures and blood reserves emptying due to lack of donations. A perfect storm.
When the storm began, the first problem was the mobility of the toilets, the heavy snowfall made it impossible to get out of shifts or enter them, and transfers to hospitals or to emergency care were complicated until they almost disappeared.
Primary care was the first affected. María Justicia, a family doctor, says that Filomena “has made primary care precarious, even more so”: “We were already coming from a precarious situation, which the pandemic worsened and the storm has finished sinking. Now the deficit of human resources but also of infrastructures has been highlighted ”.
Centers without heating or water, interiors at eight degrees and staff working with shelter, roofs with leaking leaks, sunken parking lots … “The number of incidents is brutal,” says Justicia, president of primary school in the Association of Physicians and Higher Graduate.
”There are places where you can’t even wash your hands, in the middle of a pandemic. The Ministry of Health is providing cans of water until the faults can be repaired, but the situation is insane ”.
Also in logistics. Since Friday, it was necessary to cancel the performance of PCR and any other analysis in the health centers, those that were done from the afternoon of that day could not reach the laboratories.
And they are still unable to do so, confirms a spokesman for the Ministry, who assures that they will resume as soon as the situation allows it: “We maintain those of the rapid antigen tests, which have been increasing during this week. In two days we have made about 18,000. We have been able to quickly adopt preventive measures in positive patients ”.
However, not all PCRs that had been scheduled have been converted into antigen testing [rapid tests for the detection of covid that scientists still do not recommend for asymptomatic patients but for patients with symptoms in the first five days of evolution], and during the In the last three days there have been queues at the specialty centers waiting for a test that was not going to take place.
Yesterday morning, Eva Porcel waited “at -7 ° C so that it takes more than two hours for them to tell you that they do not do the PCR that your health center prescribed.”
This mobility of the population, whether to health centers, the supermarket, work or walking in the snow, has also had an impact on hospital emergency rooms, which have seen the influx of covid patients and other pathologies and traumatology increased.
Yesterday, Gregorio Marañón had 60 broken wrists, in La Paz 109 of these emergencies were attended only on Tuesday, 28% of the total, and in Ramón y Cajal, between Tuesday and Wednesday, 43 patients had to be admitted for fractures, “not a few hospital workers,” says Agustín Utrilla, the medical director of this center.
“The most complicated thing is the balance between registration and income,” explains Utrilla. Those who have to be discharged cannot leave and it is inevitable to enter who requires it. And that has affected covid patients.
“Today”, he says yesterday, “after several days of anguish, the UME has helped us to remove 26 that did not require a stretcher, because ambulances can neither access nor leave the sick at home.” And to that, he adds, “we must add that it has coincided with the start of vaccination and the rise in infections that is occurring in recent weeks.”
Rosario Torres, acting coordinator of the Emergency Department in La Paz, confirms this: “In the last 15 days there has been an increase in covid patients, going from an average of 70 patients a day to 120 in the last few days.
Today, for example, of those who had to enter, 11 have been referred to Zendal and it is expected that in the next few hours there will be some more ”. This new emergency center that, like the rest, has suffered the closure of roads that caused the snowfall, making it difficult to transfer patients there.
Even so, says Torres, “in this third wave we are in a position to tackle it with serenity and solvency, taking advantage of what we have learned and optimizing resources to the maximum.”
Filomena makes these resources difficult for the moment and is delaying the areas of some centers, such as surgical ones, which due to low blood reserves in the Transfusion Center have tried to postpone the non-urgent for several days.
“Only 500 entered on Friday, half of what was necessary, Saturday and Sunday practically nothing, on Monday just over 400 thanks to the hospitals [that asked their staff to donate voluntarily due to the circumstances],” explains a spokeswoman for the Center.
From several hospitals they explain that the delay of patients in accessing the health system, either due to the precaution of the patients themselves or due to mobility difficulties due to meteorological circumstances, is causing “sick people to arrive, again, as happened in the first wave, they need to enter the ICU directly ”, they detail from the Marañón.
“Also of non-covid pathologies”, adds Agustín Utrilla, from Ramón y Cajal: “What is a stomach pain ends up being a perforated colon cancer”. Now, summarizes this medical director, “difficult weeks are coming, the next one will be where Christmas is seen and it horrifies me to think what we are going to find.” From there, “it will be a vaccine against viruses.”