Hospital manager: We need 1,500 more nurses

Ralf Allikvee.
Ralf Allikvee. Source: East Tallinn Central Hospital

Manager of East Tallinn Central Hospital Ralf Allikvee and Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) both criticized the government's slowness in decision-making on Wednesday, with Kõlvart saying that the government continues to be unable to understand the seriousness of the situation.

Allikvee said that the healthcare system is foremost suffering from a shortage of personnel.

"Unfortunately, we did not learn proper lessons from the situation in spring when it became clear that we have a big shortage of nurses. Extra admissions of [people to be trained as] nurses could have started already in the fall - we are short of 1,500 nurses," Allikvee said. 

Next Monday, the hospital will open a new COVID ward with 24 beds, which will increase the number of COVID beds in the hospital to 151. Allikvee said, currently, no more bed spaces can be found beyond this number.

He said the current shortage of health care workers means that the quality of treatment is declining and this is difficult to explain to people. He also said there is a concern about the increasing number of pregnant women being diagnosed with the disease.

Allikvee also criticized the government and said they needed to make decisions faster.

There are currently 647 coronavirus patients being treated in Estonian hospitals and an increase is expected in the coming weeks.

Kõlvart said that hopefully the government will listen to the messages of hospital managers.

"If it has not been done earlier, such as in the fall, then hopefully the message will reach them now. And not only the messages of hospital managers, but also the messages of municipalities," Kõlvart said. 

He said that the government continues to be unable to understand the seriousness of the situation.

"But at least the decision as regards restrictions has been made and I hope that there is an understanding that one was late imposing the restrictions, and during the one month for which the restrictions have been imposed we will definitely not exit this crisis," Kõlvart said. 

He expressed hope that the country will no longer see negative dynamics in infection rates in one month's time, while it definitely has to be admitted to residents that there will be several months of difficult times ahead.

The mayor said that the capital city is prepared to open 24-hour child care for the children of front line staff, as it has experience with a similar service from the spring. Tallinn has resolved to waive the kindergarten place fee from Thursday until the end of April.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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