Kuressaare Hospital COVID-19 patients to be transferred to mainland

Carside coronavirus testing at Kuressaare Hospital.
Carside coronavirus testing at Kuressaare Hospital. Source: Foto: Margus Muld / ERR

The Health Board started a strategic plan on Tuesday to reduce the workload of staff at Kuressaare Hospital. COVID-19 patients needing follow-up treatment will be moved to in other hospitals in the country.

A council will start working at Kuressaare Hospital today under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Ahti Varblas, Deputy Chief Emergency Medical Officer, in cooperation with Kuressaare Hospital and Defense Forces Field Hospital staff.

"On Tuesday, the council will provide an initial assessment of patients' need for follow-up care in higher-level hospitals. The plan to alleviate the congestion of Kuressaare Hospital was born in cooperation with Dr. Peep Talving (medical director of North Tallinn Medical Center)," Head of the Northern Medical Office the head of emergency medicine Arkadi Popov said.

Depending on the patients' health conditions, the Northern Ambulance Brigades will transfer patients to either to Tallinn's North Estonia Medical Center, Pärnu Hospital, West Tallinn Central hospital or East Tallinn Central hospital.

Popov said the transfer of patients to the mainland requires their consent and their general condition will also be monitored: if the prognosis is better in a higher-level hospital on the mainland, the council will decide in favor of them being moved.

"We are giving a bit of relief to the Kuressaare's hospital family. It also makes it possible to do a thorough clean of the hospital during that time. This is necessary to restore the hospital for planned and emergency treatments which are still needed in Saare County," Talving said.

"The situation in Estonia is showing trends of stabilizing which allows us to divide the workload in Kuressaare Hospital between other hospitals," Popov said.

By orders from the emergency medical leaders, the pressure on Kuressaare hospital will be relieved to help cope with the spread of intra-hospital infection and enable healthcare workers to return to their normal workload at the epicenter of the virus.

Kuressaare Hospital unaware of plans

On Tuesday, after the Health Board's press conference, a message was posted on the Facebook page of Kuressaare Hospital by the hospital's management team.

It said the news to move patients to the mainland, which they had received yesterday, had come as surprise to them as in a conversation earlier that day with Arkadi Popov there was an agreement that nothing would change until next week.

The Facebook message stood by the hospital's treatment and doctors and said the hospital was not at capacity.

"We take the treatment of our patients very seriously and we can provide oxygen therapy for all patients. Kuressaare Hospital sees no reason to drive our patients en masse from the hospital of their homeland to the mainland. Not to mention the return of the patients either home or to Kuressaare Hospital.

"No agreement has been reached with Kuressaare Hospital for the mass removal of our patients."

At the same time, the message said they appreciated transferring patients in need of higher-level intensive care to the mainland, which has been taking place for several weeks.

Planning for closure of Defense Forces field hospital

Plans are also being discussed about how and when to close the Kuressaare Field Hospital as there is no longer a need for it.

Popov said on Tuesday: "The fate of the field hospital of the Defense Forces must also be discussed because if we do not see a serious increase in morbidity on the island, we can think for how long the field hospital must be on the island, how long it must be there to help Kuressaare Hospital. We can plan an exit strategy for the field hospital."


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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