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Coronavirus Third Wave Forces To Suspend Operations

The contagion curve continues to rise throughout Spain and begins to complicate ordinary activity in hospitals.

The clearest case is that of the Valencian Community which, with a 14-day cumulative incidence of 609 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and 45% of ICU beds occupied by patients with covid-19, has already ordered the suspension of operations and tests non-urgent diagnoses to respond to the growing number of coronavirus patients. Hospitals in Catalonia and Galicia also show saturation and have begun to deprogram non-urgent activity.

“The forecasts are very bad and the slope of the epidemic curve is being almost vertical. As we continue like this, in 15 days, hospitals will begin to collapse ”, alerts Javier García Fernández, president of the Spanish Society of Anesthesiology. Since Christmas, hospitalizations due to covid have grown by 69% (there are 18,215 admitted) and the occupation in ICUs has risen by 44% (there are 2,744 critically ill with covid).

Spain registers the maximum number of daily infections of the pandemic with 38,869 cases. The covid already forces the first Catalan hospitals to postpone operations,

With this scenario and the threat of a rising contagion curve, health centers are equipped to face the incessant trickle of patients who enter their plants. Extremadura, with the highest cumulative incidence in Spain (1,131 cases per 100,000 inhabitants), has not yet had to suspend hospital activity, but “this possibility is being considered” in some health areas, says a spokesman for the regional Executive.

On the other hand, the Valencian Government has not only given instructions to suspend non-urgent activity, but also to enable more beds and prepare some 280 places in field hospitals to which to refer mild cases of covid in case of collapse.

In addition, some 35 patients with other ailments have been diverted to private healthcare and the Elche hospital has emptied its chapel to place beds if necessary.

In Catalonia, the situation is more heterogeneous depending on the center, but all share the fear of an imminent saturation. “We are quite stressed, but for now we have not deprogrammed and we will try to hold out as much as possible. If the rhythm is maintained, we will have to de-program in a few days or next week, ”says a spokesman for the Barcelona Clinic.

The Vall d’Hebron maintains the activity intact, but the Sant Pau, which has around thirty patients with covid in the ICU and 88 in the ward, had to cancel the non-urgent interventions this Wednesday.

El del Mar has a traditional ICU full of covid patients and has closed three operating rooms because it needs post-surgical resuscitation units for critically ill patients with other pathologies. The rest of the operating rooms of the center, however, have been able to absorb the activity and nothing had to be suspended.

At Trueta de Girona, activity has also been reduced by closing four operating rooms in the afternoons. In Galicia, deprogramming is punctual and there is still no major hospital involvement, said the president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo. Euskadi, for its part, is in scenario 3 of the UCI Contingency Plan.

“Being in this scenario means prioritizing both personal and material resources. Scheduled surgery is being performed, but of course, less is done, “say Osakidetza sources.

Some Andalusian hospitals also suffer from healthcare pressure and the Malaga Clinic already has more ICU beds and a specific area in the emergency room for covid. In those of Cádiz, operations that require less than three days of admission and those that do not require hospitalization are being promoted.

Where the activity has not yet had to be reorganized despite the rise in infections is in Madrid (627 cases per 100,000 inhabitants). The delay in interventions has been more due to the lack of blood in the donation centers due to the storm Filomena than due to the pandemic.

In any case, the health workers consulted agree that the evolution of the new wave augurs the worst. “We are worried and low in spirits. This is very similar to the first wave, ”laments Miriam Rubio, a nurse with the Satse union in Segovia.

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