Hospitals need to transfer more Covid-19 patients outside Brussels

Hospitals need to transfer more Covid-19 patients outside Brussels
© Belga

Several hospitals in Brussels say they need to begin transferring more coronavirus patients outside of the capital region in a matter of days to prevent their intensive care units from collapsing.

The Iris hospital network said its five hospitals required external patient transfers to increase "substantially" in the coming weeks, a request backed by other hospitals in the capital region.

"Together with other Brussels hospitals, we are calling for the organisation of substantial transfers towards hospitals of other provinces," Iris managing director Étienne Wéry told Le Soir.

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Wéry added that the transfers should concern around a dozen patients and take place within "two or three weeks."

One on five beds in the Iris network's intensive care units (ICU) are occupied by a coronavirus patient, with hospital staff concerned over their capacity to keep providing other types of urgent care.

If more transfers are not organised, Wéry said that the hospital network would have to activate the 1B phase, in which half of ICU beds are reserved for a coronavirus patient.

"This would imply having to postpone due care in cardiology, oncology, pneumology, etc.," he said, echoing comments and urgent warnings by regional officials as well as the head of the ICU in Brussels University Hospital (UZ Brussels).

The networks' demand could put the pressure on regional health officials as it follows calls from hospitals in other provinces for patient transfers from the capital to stop.

On Tuesday, the mayor of Aalst said hospitals in the Flemish city should no longer receive patients from Brussels, arguing it could compromise local residents' access to care.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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