Israel’s hospitals are overwhelmed with a soaring number of seriously ill coronavirus patients and hospital officials say that they are running out of ICU beds.
The sad incident on Friday when a coronavirus patient died after overworked medical staff failed to notice that his ventilator had malfunctioned will likely not be an isolated incident, hospital directors say.
“If until now we thought that we’ll manage to handle [this wave], even the most optimistic among us are skeptical now,” a senior doctor in one of Israel’s hospitals told B’Chadrei Chareidim. “It’s hitting us in waves – for every patient you release, another three are hospitalized. And for every three virus patients, you know that there’s a strong possibility that one of them will leave in a coffin. I apologize for being blunt but believe me that the reality is even worse.”
“It won’t be long until we reach the situation that Italy was in at the beginning of the pandemic – when it became necessary to choose whom to ventilate and whom not.”
Dvir, whose father is hospitalized in serious condition, told B’Chadrei that the medical staff is collapsing under the load. “I saw a doctor who simply began crying that he can’t anymore. He went outside and collapsed on the bench and said to himself: ‘I can’t anymore,’ and cried like a baby.”
And it’s not just coronavirus patients who are suffering from the overload but the entire medical system. “We’re canceling surgical procedures,” Prof. Tzvi Shimoni, the medical director of Laniado Hospital told Channel 12 News. “I’m already a doctor for 40 years and I’ve never witnessed such difficult scenes and an overload like this.”
Lydia Lanksner, the head nurse of the ICU at the hospital, said: “We’re running the coronavirus ICU unit at the expense of the general ICU. It’s simply ridiculous that we need to close one service in order to operate another.”
Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Chezy Levy contacted hospital directors earlier this week and instructed them to add beds to coronavirus wards due to the surge in infections.
Levy said that Israel is aiming to have a total of 3,200 beds for coronavirus patients, 1,200 more than the current number. If the goal is reached, a quarter of Israel’s hospital beds will be designated for coronavirus patients.