There are more than 100 available ventilators in Estonia when stocks from the private sector and Estonian Defense Forces are included in the count which could be used for COVID-19 patients in intensive care if needed.
The number of new cases and outbreaks of coronavirus in Estonia has increased over the last week but, compared to spring, there are fewer people receiving treatment in hospital. ERR looked into how many breathing apparatuses Estonia has which could be used for COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
Tartu University Hospital has 66 devices, of which nearly two thirds are in daily use, according to the clinic's intensive care and anesthesiology department head Joel Starkopf.
He explained: "Breathing apparatuses are connected to beds, 80 percent of beds in intensive care are occupied, with planned but emergency patients. All the patients there are not under ventilation necessarily, but staff are still occupied. And the bed."
Tallinn's North Estonia Medical Center follows Tartu University Clinic as the second hospital in Estonia with a considerable number of ventilation devices, which is why there is an agreement that all patients in the Southern region, from Narva to Valga and for hospitals in Järva County and Viljandi, will initially be directed to the Tartu University Hospital.
Starkopf said: "We are centralizing these infected people to the clinic, that is in its so-called first stage. We think it is reasonable, as the clinic's competence is among the best. The patients will receive the best treatment there. These are critical patients, whose treatment will last a long time, often two weeks. This trully needs complex handling and is why I think this is the best strategy in the region."
It must also be taken into consideration that in some local hospitals, such as Jõgeva, do not have any ventilation devices. Some, such as Valga, Võru and Kuressaare hospitals, only have a few, with some already in use for heart attack and brain trauma patients.
Pärnu Hospital chairman Urmas Sule said the hospital has the capacity to take up to 20 patients needing ventilation in intensive care. "We have one isolator in a normal situation, which has the capability of isolating an infected patient for intensive care. If we want to go a step forward and test our capabilities, we must create an entire wing. That would give us the capacity of adding six or seven beds," Sule said.
The hospital chief continued: "If the number of COVID-patients needing intensive care were to increase even more, we would be capable of providing 20 beds. But that would mean a dramatic hospital reorganization."
By mid-October, the Health Board (Terviseamet) had mapped a total of 250 ventilation devices in the medicine database, with 80 percent being used daily. That would leave 50 devices available for use by COVID-19 patients. If the private sector's and the defense forces' appliances are added, there are more than 100 devices available.
The number of apparatuses will increase even more before the end of year, as 185 devices will be available. Tartu University Hospital will also receive 25, Pärnu Hospital will get seven.
Starkopf said it is difficult to assess whether this will be enough, as noone can be sure how the epidemiological situation progresses.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste