ATHENS – As Greek public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) neared 100 percent capacity with critically-ill COVID-19 patients on ventilators, the New Democracy government is readying plans to use private hospitals too.
The administration had promised to do that during the pandemic and did on occasion but not for wholesale use as private doctors being recruited didn’t respond to the call.
Coronavirus cases aren’t being held down enough by what was supposed to be a more restrictive third lockdown that has seen masses of people use permission to be out of their homes for exercise, walking pets and other reasons to move around.
The National Health System (ESY) is being nearly overwhelmed with hospital admissions, adding pressure on the government to commandeer private facilities that are used by those who can afford them and private insurance.
The plan, said Kathimerini, provides for the transfer of patients to private hospitals and using ICU beds at public hospitals for COVID-19 patients who don’t need to be put on ventilators.
Patients who don’t have COVID-19 would be taken to other ESY hospitals as well as private facilities after the government earlier said it would commandeer them if needed.
The number of intensive care patients on ventilators hit 406, with 259 new hospital admissions. Private hospitals have already made 120 ICU beds available and transfers there began March 1, to Attica hospitals.
The president of Greece’s ambulance service (EKAV), Nikos Papaefstathiou, told the paper that while hospitals are struggling, the situation is “manageable at the moment,” but volatile and fast changing.
The Panhellenic Federation of State Hospital Employees (POEDIN) said that as of March 1 there were only 12 ICU beds available in all of Attica out of 270 although the number of units had doubled during the year-long pandemic.
The number of new reported cases above the 1,000 mark despite many parts of the country, including the Greek capital, being in a pseudo-lockdown for several weeks that hasn’t worked just as a second lenient alleged shutdown didn’t.