Radio 2

Ghent University Hospital contemplates rationing critical care

Since 1 October a total of 815 corona patients have been transferred from one hospital to another.  East Flanders has taken in the largest number of patients (165).  Sixteen patients have been taken abroad to Germany, while many patients from other provinces have also been transferred to hospitals in Antwerp (105) and the Brussels Region (97). Meanwhile at Ghent University Hospital UZ the intensive care unit is facing full capacity.  Few options remain.

The transfers are the result of the distribution plan that operates in Belgian hospitals and has the aim of ensuring all hospitals can still provide Covid and non-Covid care.  Patients are transferred when there is a threat that a particular hospital will be overwhelmed by the influx of patients.

The Patient Evacuation Coordination Centre PECC has performed 436 transfers.  304 patients were transferred from Brussels, 132 from Liège Province. Most of the patients transferred by this service ended up in hospitals in Antwerp (89), East Flanders (85) and Limburg (75).  Only yesterday two additional patients were transferred to Germany.

Meanwhile Ghent University Hospital is sounding the alarm.  The UZ currently has 52 Covid patients in critical care and says that it won’t be able to accept any more critical care patients by the end of the weekend.

A spokeswoman for the hospital suggested arrangements will have to be made with other hospitals but added that intensive care units at all other hospitals are facing very strong demand.

Karlien Wouters concedes that in the worst-case scenario UZ will have to take decisions and will have to decide who they can fit in in critical care and who they can’t.

“It’s a dreadful scenario and we hope we never have to do this, but it’s very close and I can sense that doctors and nurses in critical care are feeling the pressure and are getting more and more scared.”

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