Tartu University Hospital will close its operating theaters to help reorganize treatment for coronavirus patients, newspaper Tartu Postimees reported on Tuesday.
As of Monday morning, there were 72 patients requiring isolation at the hospital in Estonia's second biggest city. Sixteen were in intensive care and 11 were on mechanical ventilation. One patient required extracorporeal circulation.
There are an additional 93 coronavirus patients who require treatment but do not need to be in isolation. This is 16 percent of all admitted patients.
It was said at a crisis meeting on Monday that more beds for coronavirus treatment are needed.
Before COVID-19, there were 11 beds in the infectious diseases department of the hospital and this has been increased to 40. There is also a 20-bed ward in the lung clinic.
Two of three adult intensive care units have been adapted for intensive care of COVID-19 patients, which can treat up to 19 patients requiring mechanical ventilation.
But last week showed that this is not enough either.
"Therefore, readiness to admit coronavirus patients to the hospital is also available in the maternity ward, pediatric clinic and psychiatric clinic," the hospital's chief of medicine Andres Kotsar said.
"We predict that 20 new beds will need to be opened in the coming weeks, including six for intensive care."
Each bed comes at the expense of a different treatment, delaying scheduled treatment.
"We would not choose to limit scheduled surgical treatment, but without it, it would no longer be possible to provide routine and intensive care for COVID-19 patients or other patients who are hospitalized in an emergency. Already last week, we closed six scheduled operating rooms in various specialties to ensure the hospital's capacity to cope with COVID-19 patients," Kotsar said.
South Estonia is currently one of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus. The Tartu University Hospital is the biggest in the southern region and treats people from across south Estonia.
Editor: Helen Wright