Hospitals in Israel have begun canceling outpatient care, reducing the number of beds available to the internal medicine department, and scaling down surgery. These measures are being taken to redirect resources towards treating patients infected by the COVID-19 virus. People are also starting to notice a rapidly falling quality of care in various departments. This is specifically due to the increased pressure and workload on internal medicine and intensive care.
On Monday, 33 more Israelis lost the fight with the virus. The death toll in the country is now at 1,499. 2,092 new cases have been detected as Israel stopped for the annual Yom Kippur holiday. As of now, over 1,500 people are being cared for in hospitals, 763 of whom are in critical condition.
The ‘barometer team’, in charge of keeping track of the ongoing situation in hospitals, reported that 40 percent of the beds in the internal medicine department are currently being used to treat infected patients. Moreover, 10-15 percent of the emergency beds in hospitals all over the country have been occupied by patients diagnosed with the virus.
The burden of the increasing patients is mostly being felt by small and medium-sized hospitals. The areas located at the center of the pandemic outbreaks are also facing the brunt of the unfortunate situation. Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in Jerusalem called in 112 patients diagnosed with the virus, on Monday. 25 of these were in critical condition. Out of the 216 internal medicine beds available here, 90 have been occupied by patients infected with the virus.
The Haemek Hospital in Afula has had 36 of its internal medicine beds occupied by coronavirus patients. Two expanded internal medicine wards out of a total of six have been devoted to infected patients in the Western Galilee Hospital.
Currently, there are 111 crowded internal medicine wards in almost every general hospital in Israel. The number of these patients is rising and tends to spike every now and then. There is a surge in bed occupancy, especially during the winters.
Due to the rising number of patients, internal medicine wards are unable to carry out their usual activities. By now, there is no hospital in the country which has not devoted one of its portion or the other from internal medicine wards to patients of the virus.
Hospitals are facing an added burden because of the fact that COVID-19 patients take longer to recover and thus, occupy beds for a longer period of time. Where other patients only stay at the hospital for about four days, people infected with the virus tend to spend at least 12 days in hospice.
The increased number of patients also require a quick healthcare response team. This leads to added pressure on the health-care system to hire and train medical staff. Hospital directors, department heads, and senior health-care officials are now worried because of increasing sickness, quarantines of medical personal, and accumulated burnout of medical teams.
The cause for concern, however, remains the rising number of coronavirus patients which is pushing hospitals in the country to their limits.