This Thursday, in the corridors of the intensive care unit of UZ Brussels hospital in Jette, one of the most impacted in the country by the Covid, no millimeter of skin must be discovered before entering behind the large white doors of Covid units. It is vital. For his protection but also for that of others. “Since the end of the first wave, we have not stopped, we have had to make up for the treatments that could not be carried out. I think it will start again as in April but we will have fewer weapons to cope. “, lets go Julien, nurse, between two treatments.
Barely recovered from a first trying wave, the staff has had to deal with an increasingly massive influx of Covid patients over the past two weeks. Here, we do not mince words, political correctness has no place: the second wave of patients is indeed there, and we have to face it.
Transfers but not without pitfalls
From this Wednesday, phase 1B of the hospital emergency plan will be activated as in all Brussels hospitals. This means that 50% of intensive care beds are now dedicated to Covid-19 patients. “We need 18 beds for Covid and 18 non-Covid and 72 for non-intensive care Covid. We have two rooms dedicated to Covid, one full and the other almost, so we will free a third”, explains Dr Elisabeth De Waele, who heads the intensive care unit at UZ Brussel. While the transfer of patients to other hospitals is already a reality, it is not without its pitfalls. Understand, it is not always easy to send a patient from Brussels to Namur, for health reasons but also for logistics. “The units fill up everywhere, when we change province, it starts to get in the way. And it becomes dangerous to transport them when they are seriously affected but we must remain united between us”, indicates an emergency physician.
Everyone dreads the next step and no one wants to know about it. From phase 2A, additional beds will be created. But it will not be without an impact for non-Covid care. “Two weeks ago, I never imagined thinking of activating phase 2, five years ago even less”breathes Elisabeth De Waele. “The plans are there, there is not panic yet but we will not be able to hold out much longer if this continues. The message is clear: we must stop creating patients, it is urgent to be aware of it.” And for good reason, hospital walls are not infinitely stretchy, “solidarity and collaboration between hospitals in different provinces will therefore be vital”, concludes Dr Duc Nam Nguyen, head of Covid intensive care clinic.
This Sunday, Sciensano announced that the number of hospital admissions was up 96% from the previous period, so it doubled in one week. This Saturday, September 17, 2,255 hospital beds were occupied by cases of coronavirus, against 1,257 a week earlier (+ 79%). Occupancy in intensive care units increased from 226 to 381 beds during the same period (+ 69%). The second wave is here.
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