Hospitals expanding coronavirus wards

West Tallinn Central Hospital's Merimetsa Infectious Diseases Clinic.
West Tallinn Central Hospital's Merimetsa Infectious Diseases Clinic. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The number of COVID-19 patients receiving hospital treatment grew by 25 percent in the last week to land on 52 by Friday. Hospitals have set about expanding coronavirus wards as the number of people in need of hospitalization is forecast to keep growing.

The agreement in Tallinn is to send COVID-19 patients who need hospital treatment to the West Tallinn Central Hospital's Merimetsa Infectious Diseases Clinic so other hospitals could continue planned treatment. Even though the clinic still has free beds, Director Imbi Moks describes the situation as rather serious.

"We have 23 patients today and 53 available beds. We plan to add seven beds in the near future to take our capacity to 60 beds," Moks said.

The chief said that the hospital can still make do with its own staff as most people do not require intensive care. A few patients have nevertheless been sent for stage three intensive care at the North Estonia Medical Center.

How quickly the situation will deteriorate for the medical systems depends on the age of the infected, Moks said. The disease spreading among elderly people would quickly result in a crisis.

The hospital's board discussed on Friday when it should start dialing back planned treatment.

"Staff capacity is what affects planned work the most. We are still offering planned treatment in full today, but the more people we need to send to the infectious diseases clinic, the more we will be forced to limit planned activities," Moks explained.

The North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) has six intensive care beds for coronavirus patients and is treating four people as of Friday. If the healthcare system's threat level is elevated next week, the hospital will allocate another eight intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients.

"We still have ER capacity today, while I told the surgery clinic on Friday to consider what to do with people who need intensive care after surgery. We are not limiting planned treatment yet, while we are getting ready to prioritize should the number of COVID-19 patients explode," said Peep Talving, member of the board of PERH.

Estonian hospitals currently have 101 beds for treating COVID-19 patients and 14 beds in stage three intensive care. Head of the Health Board's medical staff Arkadi Popov said more will have to be created next week.

"We plan to take the COVID-19 capacity of almost all active treatment hospitals to the A2 level from November 12 that would mean hiking the total number of beds to 159," Popov said.

Because the infection rate has been growing very quickly on the island of Hiiumaa in recent days, the treatment capacity of the local hospital will also be boosted.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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