Brabant hospitals at breaking point, IC wards are now full

Social distancing in a hospital waiting room. Photo: Odi Busman
Social distancing in a hospital waiting room. Photo: Odi Busman

Intensive care doctors from a number of hospitals in Noord-Brabant province have written to the health ministry and acute care organisation saying they have now reached their limits when it comes to treating coronavirus patients on IC wards.

‘The physical and emotional strain on our teams (who, according to IC doctors, are also increasingly dealing with young patients) inevitably takes a toll,’ the letter said.

‘Team members have indicated that they will not be able to sustain this pace much longer and are considering stopping. The staff shortage will increase further, which will endanger the quality of our IC care in the (near) future,’ the letter said. 

In the Amphia Ziekenhuis in Breda, for example, doctors been forced to increase capacity on IC wards and are just keeping a couple of beds open for non-coronavirus related emergency cases.

IC manager Merijn Kant told broadcaster NOS he was astonished that the government has decided to relax some of the coronavirus rules from next week, saying it ‘goes against reality’.

‘These choices appear to have been made for other reasons,’ he said. ‘I worry that we cannot deal with any more [coronavirus patients].’

Code black

Acute care association chairman Diederik Gommers told podcast Virusfeiten on Friday that some hospital chiefs have told him they expect to be in the highest level of crisis – code black – next week, if cases continue to rise.

In ‘code black’ hospital staff are forced to choose who gets an intensive care bed – a situation which has not yet arisen during the pandemic.

On Saturday, 8,123 new coronavirus cases were reported, down 1,152 on Friday and slightly below the weekly average.

In total, 2,514 coronavirus patients were being treated in hospital, of whom 816 were in an intensive care ward.

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