Latvian paramedic chief says nobody is sure to get medical help anymore

The healthcare system has been 'deformed' due to the influx of COVID-19 patients, Liene Cipule, head of the Emergency Medical Service (NMPD), said in an interview on Latvian Television December 22.

She said the situation was grave - not only scheduled operations and daily hospital work were affected, but the whole system, which has been greatly modified to help all patients. At the same time, a total of 140 NMPD medics are in self-isolation or quarantine.

NMPD is evaluating daily how to improve patient logistics by assessing which hospital has fewer patients. It's a big challenge because the patient needs to be able to get to, possibly, a more remote hospital. According to Cipule, medics in hospitals are overloaded and are no longer able to gather themselves and react to the arrival of new patients.

“It already shows such a burn-out,” Cipule said.

Medics are concerned that the influx of patients may be increasing because the rate is still not decreasing, but there are already some problems in hospitalizing patients in some cases. Medics sort patients more scrupulously, prioritizing help to those who need it more urgently. According to Cipule, no patient in Latvia can be sure to get all the help they need in time. And it also applies to other emergencies, not just COVID-19.

Cipule stressed it was a huge tragedy because the medical mission is to save lives, help people.

“If a medic sees that he can't [save a life] on any given day, it's a huge tragedy for all of us in general. People don't understand how difficult it is for the healthcare system at the moment,” Cipule said.

She called on people to respect everything that can be done to reduce COVID-19so that medics don't have to continue working in 'war conditions'.

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