Our healthcare system is starting to prepare for what could be a warm winter. Patient prevalence is critical due to the large differences in vaccination coverage.
Belgian hospitals are busy listing employees who can be deployed in intensive care beds with Corona patients in the coming period. They are doing so at the request of the Hospital and Transportation Capacity Scale Committee (HTSC), a group of experts helping healthcare in the coronavirus crisis.
A message to the hospitals
The group of experts is preparing for the year of Corona, as evidenced by a new hospital communiqué, the first since June 22. “We are once again seeing a slow but fairly steady increase in the number of admissions,” the letter said.
The situation shows that, despite vaccinations, the infectious delta type is difficult to tame. On Monday, 643 coronavirus patients were hospitalized again, compared to 581 on Friday. The more positive news is that the number of people in intensive care appears to have reached a plateau of about 170 patients.
This appears to indicate that vaccines continue to work well against the most severe forms of the disease. The setback is that vaccines protect against infection and transmission less often than expected. This means that the virus continues to spread well, with the risk of infecting the weak again and putting many people in the hospital again.
Due to the relatively low number of infections, it is difficult for virus forecasters to come up with stable scenarios. A new simulation by the group on biostatistics professor Niel Hens (UHasselt and UAntwerp) says it is plausible that the intensive occupation will rise to 300 to 400 by the beginning of October. Although it is emphasized that there is a high degree of uncertainty associated with the predictions.
The occupancy rate in intensive care could rise from 300 to 400 at the beginning of October.
The situation is making hospital administrators turn. Most hospitals are now in phase 0. This means they must allocate 15 per cent of intensive care capacity to Covid patients. For full care, that number drops to 300 Covid beds. In their communications, the experts stated that hospitals should be able to switch to the next stage within 48 hours: keeping 25 percent of their intensive capacity available for COVID-19 patients (500 beds).
worried about some directions
The expert approach is also associated with turmoil around some trends. Although most hospitals are far from the warning stage, there are significant local variations. Due to the low vaccination rate and residents returning from infected leave, Brussels is the epicenter of Corona. With 10 percent of the population, the capital accounts for a third of those admitted and patients in intensive care. The city of Antwerp and the province of Liege are also gradually appearing in the hospital statistics.
In some Brussels hospitals, corona patients have already used up half of the intensive care capacity. That is why experts insist on solidarity between hospitals.
But this is accompanied by a Flemish and Walloon grumble. “There is no denying there is frustration,” says Margot Clouet of the care umbrella Zorgnet-Icuro. Everyone is already on their gums and now Flemish and Walloon hospitals threaten to become victims of faltering vaccination, especially in Brussels.
Everyone is already on their gums, and now Flemish and Walloon hospitals threaten to become victims of a faltering vaccine, especially in Brussels.
Brussels hospitals have also proven to be crowded faster in recent weeks than theoretical care capacity has indicated. That is why the question arose to properly map the effective workforce. There are concerns that due to holidays, employees with gums or falls and care that has been postponed during previous peak corona periods to be compensated, corona beds will be available less in practice than the government hypothesizes in theory.
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