Latvia's hospitals worry about possible overload

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If the COVID-19 virus continues to spread rapidly, hospitals could ditch other services for priority emergency medical treatment, the Latvian Hospital Association said October 27.

In hospitals, COVID-19 can be spread by patients who don't even know that they are infected with the virus. Such a situation occurred at Alūksne Hospital, where several employees became infected from one patient last weekend.

“On Saturday, one person came in with an acute severe injury without COVID-19 signs and was given surgical assistance – two doctors, two nurses and one sanitary were involved. These all people are quarantined now,” said Maruta Kauliņa, head of Alūksne Hospital.

Meanwhile, 14 medics have been infected at Jēkabpils hospital and 13 are in quarantine. The Latvian Hospital Association expressed concern – there is a limited number of doctors in Latvia. So far, the situation is not critical, but if the virus spreads further among medics, there may be a shortage of staff.

“We try to mobilize all forces, but those resources are pretty limited. Lithuania has long refused to provide other services. For them, the top priority is the emergency, the next one is COVID-19 patients, because there is actually no staff in the care of the other patients. They have a better situation than Latvia, because

we are in the worst situation among the Baltic States,” said the Chairman of the Latvian Hospital Association, Jevgēņijs Kalējs.

To address the lack of specialists, former colleagues or final-year medical students are welcome to help hospitals.

More than 170 COVID-19 patients are currently being treated in Latvian hospitals, and consideration is given to expanding the capacity of regional hospitals if the situation continues to deteriorate.

For example, in Daugavpils hospital, the COVID-19 patient department will be formed in a separate housing unit.

Currently, 15 patients infected with COVID-19 are present at Daugavpils hospital, including one in severe condition. There are also ten other employees who have been infected, who are in quarantine at home. The hospital pointed out that there are enough resources for the time being, but they are only sufficient for the current situation and conditions.

Currently, most COVID-19 patients are placed in the Latvian Infectology Center - 81. As of Sunday, COVID-19 patients are also taken to the Tuberculosis and lung disease center in Saurieši.

“Today we can say that the health system is not overloaded.

Our main concern is that if patient growth continues, the number of people in hospitals may increase over the next four weeks, and this will cause problems,”

Liene Cipule, head of the Emergency Medical Service (NMPD), said during the Saeima panel meeting.

Hospital representatives also recalled that working with COVID-19 patients requires not only physical but also emotional strength, because it is prohibited to visit the patients who are often in despair.

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