ICU capacity just can’t be increased any further, says Gommers


Dutch intensive care units simply cannot comply with the request of acting Health Minister Hugo de Jonge to exceed the current maximum of 1,350 intensive care beds over the coming winter. That said Diederik Gommers, president of the Dutch Association for Intensive Care (NVIC), in the Virusfeiten (EO) podcast.

Several media have reported that the Department of Health recently asked intensive care units to consider whether it is possible to increase capacity again if the flow of patients continues to grow. “We don’t have these nurses. People are just exhausted,” Gommers replied.

The NVIC and the professional association V&VN IC have previously said that 1,350 beds are the maximum that intensive care units can expand. The intensive care units currently have 950 beds, Gommers said.

Due to the pressure on hospitals, the National Patient Distribution Coordination Center (LCPS) decided to resume coordinating the distribution of coronavirus patients across the country as of Wednesday. By easing the burden on regions with the most coronavirus patients, LCPS hopes to keep healthcare accessible everywhere. Intensive care units are currently treating 165 critically ill people with Covid-19. There are now a total of 650 coronavirus patients in Dutch hospitals.

Regular hospital surgeries have resumed after the summer but are often postponed again, according to Gommers. “You need intensive care beds for surgeries. We now have a few Covid patients in intensive care, and then you go in the morning to see if an operation can take place. He’s still looking for a bed. “

The intensive care doctor, who is also a member of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), said hospitals were “moaning and creaking” and the Hague issue had received little enthusiasm. “There are a lot of emotions among nurses and doctors,” Gommers said. “All that remains is to make choices. Which patient comes first? We will be facing some real ethical dilemmas this winter.”

At the height of the first wave of coronavirus in April last year, more than 1,500 people were in intensive care units. These were almost exclusively coronavirus patients. Regular care was almost completely stopped. During the second, third and fourth waves, hospitals tried to continue regular care as much as possible.

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