CoV protection measures have been lifted concerning the hospital situation and an expected decline in infections – only in Vienna, not all of them. But the reduction in infections is modest, and hospitals’ situation is coming to a head.
In Vienna, 6,329 new infections have been reported in the past 24 hours. There is currently no sign of a gradual decline in conditions. The virus is rampant in schools, kindergartens, and hospitals, where many employees are absent due to quarantine regulations.
There are more and more patients in Vienna’s hospitals, but fewer and fewer staff. They can still help themselves with overtime, but the trend is upwards. There have always been waves of sick leave in Vienna’s hospitals, for example, in times of flu. But according to the health association, not even in the pandemic year of 2021 had there been as many absences as at present.
This is due to an all-time high in infections, which even forecasters had not expected. In the middle of last week, more than 50,000 new infections were reported in Austria on each of three days. The currently circulating Omicron variant BA.2 is more contagious than before, reflected in an increase in sick leave. Daniela Puschnik, a doctor at the Hietzing Clinic, said that the number of seclusion notices had been the highest since the pandemic outbreak.
Ten percent of staff absent
So it is not only the occupied beds that are causing strain in the hospitals. There is also a shortage of nurses and doctors. Currently, about ten percent of the staff at the hospitals are absent due to illness. According to the health association, in terms of people, that is about 1,500 due to Corona and 1,500 for other reasons. In total, that is 3,000 absences.
The consequences affect the patients: “The special care does not occur. And if the surgeon, who knows exactly one thing, is at home himself because he is looking after his child or because he has been infected, then the operation will not be able to take place either. But we are trying,” said Puschnik.
Adding to the aggravation, each ward at a clinic must also have its CoV ward, such as a CoV orthopedics ward, because CoV patients must be isolated and treated in their communities. This also costs time and resources, as nurse Astrid Stranig explained: “Patients get worse even though they think it is a mild course. Nevertheless, they come back to the hospital. They have to be treated again, they have to be filtered, isolated – and this working time is just really additional work.”
In the office of Health Councillor Peter Hacker, the situation is not expected to ease until the end of April at the earliest. But with an eye on the autumn, the health staff is already calling for a significant increase in the number of employees by autumn at the latest.
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