‘Exhausted’: Flemish hospital reduces ICU beds during Christmas break

‘Exhausted’: Flemish hospital reduces ICU beds during Christmas break
Credit: Belga

During the Christmas period, the Ghent University Hospital (UZ Gent) is reducing the number of its beds in intensive care (ICU) by nearly 20 to give staff the necessary rest.

While the hospital always reduces its ICU capacity in holiday periods to give staff the necessary rest, it is now going further than other years and reducing it by 20%.

“If we do nothing, I fear that the system will collapse and that staff will be out for a longer period. We have to avoid that at all costs,” Managing Director Eric Mortier said on Flemish radio on Tuesday. “Our staff is really exhausted and needs rest.”

At the moment, about half of the 71 beds in intensive care at UZ Gent are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

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“We are now faced with a lot of staff who are ill or in quarantine. We want to give them, and also the people who have to replace them, a chance to get enough rest between Christmas and New Year,” said Mortier.

The hospital wants to send the signal that they want to be sure not to exhaust their staff, as they “are dancing on a tightrope” after making enormous efforts, not just when the hospitalisations peak, but also in between those times. “They are really exhausted.”

That is also why the UZ Gent decided that a large part of the requested days off will be able to be taken, among other things. Despite the temporary reduction of ICU beds, care will still be guaranteed for the time being, said Mortier.

“Still, the outside world has to understand that the hospitals cannot continue to cope with this continuous pressure without supporting measures. We are now at our limits.”

“I appeal to the solidarity of the whole of society to properly comply with the current measures in order to avoid hospital admissions.”

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