Corona in Germany: “Dramatic” situation in intensive care units

Status: 11/13/2021 8:16 a.m.

In view of the increasing number of infections, some clinics in the country are slowly reaching their limits. Many intensive care beds are already occupied, especially in the south and east. In Thuringia, the situation is considered “dramatic”.

The situation in the clinics is worsening due to the sharp increase in the number of corona patients. The capacities in the intensive care units are in some cases almost exhausted, other operations that can be planned are postponed, patients may no longer find a free clinic in their area and are taken to other cities in their federal state.

Especially in the south and east, clinics are preparing to move patients to other federal states, as a survey by the dpa news agency revealed. However, the admission opportunities in other countries are also limited. Saxony-Anhalt, for example, can still care for sick people from its own country – but: “It looks like you don’t have the capacity to take in patients from other federal states,” said a spokesman for the hospital society.

“In the south capacities are practically used up”

A confidential report from the federal states shows that in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg “transfers between hospitals are already being carried out daily to compensate and maintain functionality,” as the newspapers of the “Funke Mediengruppe” report. “In the north there is still capacity, in the south it is practically used up,” says the report of the transnational steering group of the so-called clover leaf system for patient distribution in the event of regional overload.

The 16 federal states are divided into five groups (shamrocks) nationwide, which are initially supposed to help each other. If an entire clover is overloaded, it is distributed across Germany. In Hesse and Bavaria, according to the DIVI intensive care register, only 8.1 and 9.1 percent of the intensive care beds were free on Friday: 144 of 1788 beds in Hesse and 282 of 3104 in Bavaria.

In Thuringia, 82 intensive care beds are still available

In Thuringia, the country with the second highest seven-day incidence, the situation is particularly dramatic in absolute terms: 82 of the 637 intensive care beds were still free. At the same time, the country has the highest proportion of corona patients in intensive care units, at 23.9 percent (152). In the middle of the week, the local hospital company said that patients were not being transferred to other federal states across the board, but it could be that hospitals in border regions are already doing this. According to the Funke newspapers, the control group for patient distribution writes that the situation is “classified as dramatic, especially in Thuringia”.

But Saxony is also preparing to reactivate the cloverleaf principle and relocate patients to neighboring countries, as the managing director of the state hospital company, Stephan Helm, told the dpa. The country has the highest seven-day incidence and the second highest proportion of corona patients in intensive care units (22.1 percent). Of 1336 intensive care beds, 174 are still free (13 percent).

However, Saxony forms a clover leaf with Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Berlin and Brandenburg. And in Thuringia the situation is even more dramatic, Saxony-Anhalt is at the admission limit and Berlin had even fewer free intensive care beds yesterday (7.0) – so for now only Brandenburg remains, where the situation is still reasonably relaxed (17.4 Percent free beds).

Leipzig University Clinic postpones operations

The Leipzig University Hospital is already postponing non-urgent operations. The clinic announced that the number of operations had been reduced by more than 30 percent. However, urgent cases will continue to be operated on. Europe’s largest hospital, the Berlin Charité, had already announced such a procedure.

“The biggest limiting factor that we currently have in the hospital sector is the staff,” explained the Saxon expert Helm. Because every intensive care bed requires a certain number of medical staff. And the problem also exists in the north, which is a little less polluted: “The situation is currently exacerbated by the fact that many clinics are currently unable to fully operate their intensive care capacities due to a lack of nursing staff,” said the hospital company in Lower Saxony – due to layoffs, working hours and internal job changes. “The reason for this is the ongoing workload caused by the corona pandemic.”

The German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) called for decisive action by politicians with a view to stricter corona countermeasures. “We need clear decisions that are appropriate to the situation very quickly, namely for nationwide uniform rules,” said DIVI President Gernot Marx of the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. “And we need clear communication of the decisions and an end to the constant quarrels, so that what has been decided can be implemented and adhered to.”

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