Panama’s public hospitals saturated  by COVID-19

1,653Views 12Comments Posted 23/07/2020

The principal hospitals of Panama’s public health system are saturated by the COVID-19 pandemic with an occupancy rate of over 95%  when the ideal is to keep it below 85%.

The crisis is most visible in the Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid  CSS Hospital and in Santo Tomás Hospital (HST), where new rooms for Covid-19 patients were enabled.

The president of the Association of Specialist Doctors of the CSS, Domingo Moreno, said that the authorities do not give the correct information on the situation facing the health system, but the opening of new rooms and the transfer of patients shows that there are serious problems.

Estimates indicate that for every thousand new cases of Covid-19 reported each day, about 200 should go to a hospital.

The president of the Association of Specialist Doctors of Santo Tomás, Carmelo Wong, stressed that announcements such as the possibility of hiring foreign doctors and the authorization of convention centers show that the system is being prepared for a difficult time.

The measures that the health authorities are taking to contain the Covid-19 pandemic are a reflection of the fact that the virus is out of control and that the health system is lacking the capacity to attend to the affected population in hospitals reports La Prensa

Dr Wong says the health system collapsed about two weeks ago. In the HST about 185 beds are occupied with Covid-19 patients, while new spaces are being converted to house more patients.

"When you start transforming general hospitals into Covid-19 hospitals, regardless of whether they declare them that;  if 80% of hospitalized patients are for Covid-19, it is a Covid-19 hospital," he said.

The provision of service centers in convention facilities, such as Amador and Figali, means that a "very strong" scenario is looming.

"All this without counting on the exhaustion of health personnel and the shortage of supplies, such as personal protective equipment," he said.

Dr Domingo Moreno, president of the CSS Association of Specialist Doctors, said that the health authorities do not want to recognize the problem.

"The system is already out of date," said Moreno, who explained that measures such as moving the Obstetrics service from the Hospital Complex to the Irma hospital in Lourdes Tzanetatos reflect the reengineering that is being carried out.

From the first days of the pandemic, Moreno argued that in the Hospital Complex, a policy of swabbing all patients before hospitalization had to be applied, to prevent the entry of the disease into the hospital, as well as to periodically test all health personnel.

He said  the situation is worsened by the lack of capacity to confine patients to intensive care units, which leads them to die in general care rooms, as is happening, "without any justification."

Until yesterday, in the Hospital Complex there were 97 beds available, of which 457 are in the ward, and of 117 beds in intensive care, there were about 18.

Ministry of Health counselor  Eyra Ruíz, said that hospitals still have the capacity to receive patients and that the situation would have been worse if they had not made decisions such as the authorization of the Amador and Figali convention centers.

 She said that when individually evaluated there are hospitals such as the HST and the Arnulfo Arias Madrid Hospital Complex that will always be full.

Ruíz explained that the authorization of the convention centers - like Figali, where they will have

160 beds is to decongest the hospital rooms., she said that they will be launching an awareness campaign so that positive people over 40 and with risk factors go to hotels to receive a seven-day treatment that will avoid hospitalization.