Kuressaare hospital closes last coronavirus ward

Kuressaare Hospital.
Kuressaare Hospital. Source: ERR

Kuressaare Hospital on Saaremaa is now treating no COVID-19 patients, the hospital announced late last week. Saaremaa was by far the worst hit region of Estonia in per capita coronavirus cases, during the worst period of the pandemic, with fears that its sole major hospital faced overload leading to an army field hospital being set up adjacent to it.

"We did it, all of us, together," the hospital announced on its social media page Friday.

"As of today, not a single coronarvirus patient is being treated at Kuressare Hospital," the post, signed by hospital managers Märt Kõlli and Edward Laane, went on.

"We hope to never again experience a crisis like this. But now we know that, if needed, we can be ready to do it."

"The devastating wave that was the coronavirus has passed, something of a wind and storm, but ultimately it was the men and women of Kuressaare Hospital who dealt COVID-19 its last blow."

"The crisis made our hospital stronger and connected us to the community. Unending thanks to the entire hospital staff – give yourselves a bow. As the President of the Republic of Estonia and many more have said, you are indeed heroes."

A coronavirus ward in Kuressaare Hospital during the pandemic. Source: Social Media/Kuressaare Hospital

The hospital said that a total of 131 coronavirus patients had been treated at the hospital, which had three coronavirus wards, plus the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) field hospital erected in the facility's grounds in anticipation of an overload (in the event the field hospital was not needed, though some patients requiring intensive care were flown to Tallinn-ed.).

The total number of times patients were treated came to 151, since some patients required repeat treatment, the hospital said.

In addition to the EDF field hospital, fund raising drives and other initiatives helped the hospital and Saaremaa out in its hour of need, something the hospital expressed its gratitude for.

"Thanks to everyone who came to our aid, both from the islands and the mainland. Also all those who have supported us morally, verbally, emotionally and financially. Every jar of honey, good word or donated euro has been of immense importance to us. For our part, we can confirm and give our promise that we will do our best to offer you, dear islanders, the best possible medical care on Saaremaa, and will continue to work purposefully to make Kuressaare Hospital a great partner for the community."

Among the hospital's patients were a centenarian.

Saaremaa's reported COVID-19 positive test rate stood at 166.43 per 10,000 inhabitants, far in excess of that of the next highest region, Võru County (24.31) or the most populous region, Harju County (11.65).

From early March, coronavirus cases started being identified on the island following the visit by a sports team from northern Italy, then one of the worst affected regions in the world by the virus, for a volleyball competition, as well as a champagne festival soon afterwards. The infection rate picked up pace in late March, by which time it stood in the hundreds, passing the 500-mark in mid-April.

However, soon after that, the rate of new cases began to slow up, with only around 50 new cases emerging over the month between mid-April and mid-May. Just one new case has been reported from the island since May 17 – coincidentally the day the government's emergency situation, issued in response to the pandemic, expired.

This means both that coronavirus is not spreading on Saaremaa at present, and that the vast majority of those who contracted the illness have now recovered, as evidenced by the Kuressaare Hospital wards being closed, and partners being permitted at births.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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