Health Board to close COVID departments in smaller hospitals

Dr. Arkadi Popov, head medical officer of the Health Board's coronavirus emergency situation task force.
Dr. Arkadi Popov, head medical officer of the Health Board's coronavirus emergency situation task force. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

The Health Board has decided to close coronavirus (COVID-19) disease wards in smaller hospitals from Monday as the situation across the country starts to stabilize, it was announced on Saturday.

Arkadi Popov, chief medical official for the emergency situation at the Health Board, said at a press conference on Saturday: "We assume that the situation is stabilizing and we can hope that COVID-positive patients will no longer have to be treated in small hospitals - we are talking about general hospitals and local hospitals."

He emphasized that hospital Emergency Medicine Departments (EMOs) must still be prepared to receive such patients.

Popov explained the decision had been made because the number of COVID patients has started to decrease. 

"The number is declining, so there is no longer a great need to have COVID departments in small hospitals and also in certain large hospitals, such as the East Tallinn Central Hospital (ITK). We agreed at the level of the Northern Medical Board that there will be no COVID department in the classical format, but that EMO capacity must be ensured, including the treatment of COVID-positive patients," he explained.

In addition, the ITK must ensure the capacity of obstetrics and gynecology, as well as intensive care. 

"This is just in case, rather so that if - in a hypothetical situation - we need to expand the intensive care capacity in addition to the North Estonian Medical Center (PERH), then ITK can also ensure it," Popov said. "And we also agreed with the West Tallinn Central Hospital that they will be able to receive more patients who need oxygen therapy, we currently have enough places in its infection clinic, so there is such a possibility," he explained.

The Health Board is also thinking about restoring the normal situation in Kuressaare Hospital, the medical manager said. "For this purpose, a roadmap has been prepared for Kuressaare Hospital, which should lead to the resumption of normal work there - COVID departments should become so-called clean areas and staff who can work in these areas must also be selected. In the longer term, we are also talking about the resumption of planned work at Kuressaare Hospital," said Popov.

In accordance with this plan, the field hospital currently located in Kuressaare will act as a buffer. "I hope that in the near future - although not next week - the field hospital can be brought back to the mainland," Popov added.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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