Commentary on hospital utilization – Corona cases are already lying in intensive care beds
Commentary on the utilization of hospital capacity – Corona cases are already lying in intensive care beds
Anyone who has a serious accident in Switzerland receives first-class medical care in the intensive care unit: this matter of course is being called into question in the pandemic.
With the fifth Corona wave and the new virus variant Omikron, the big déjà vu is also setting in: Intensive care units have been virtually full since yesterday, staff are short – and even more exhausted than a year ago.
Now, a study shows that more hospitalized Corona patients die when ICU utilization increases. In the second wave, this was already the case with an occupancy of 70 percent. The results do not translate one-to-one to the fifth wave. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that the intensive care units of several cantons are now in this critical range. Also because there are too few personnel to increase capacities.
Many people think they are safe because of vaccination or a supposedly strong immune system. But the feeling of invulnerability is deceptive. What has not changed despite the pandemic: Every day, people have accidents on the road, while skiing or climbing mountains.
Of course, you couldn't live a normal life if you assumed the worst every day, that you'd leave home and never return. And still accidents happen. Mostly because for a short moment you are somewhere else with your thoughts. Tired, on your cell phone, or thinking it's a good idea to ride your e-scooter home through the slushy snow after three gin and tonics. Or like me, who didn't walk across the crosswalk three years ago and got hit by a bus. This is all unreasonable, but human.
Abocovid patients at riskHospital mortality rising earlier than expected
Subscriptioncountry comparison in Western EuropeSwiss intensive care units are busiest with covid patients
Before the pandemic, the Swiss healthcare system was capable of meeting the highest demands. It is known worldwide for its cutting-edge medicine. And for us Swiss. Swiss has become a matter of course. We know: If something happens to me, I will get help. Immediately and by highly qualified personnel. This safety is again highly threatened. And the atmosphere in the hospital, where no one wants to be, has become even more uncomfortable.
It is fortunate that very few people know the inside of an intensive care unit. People know about the zone between life and death, but the forces at work there, what is demanded of all those who move in it, remains abstract for many people. Those in an intensive care bed have survived for the time being. But you put your life in the hands of others who make decisions. What patients are left with is trusting that everyone is doing their job to the best of their ability. Doctors have taken an oath to save lives, and nurses do their jobs because they are nurses, not handlers. And for this, female doctors must. Caregivers must be able to recover.
An intensive care bed without enough staff is just a bed.
Now we are in the middle of the fifth wave, and a whole industry is moving on the edge of total exhaustion. People are leaving the profession because they can't do it anymore – apart from the poor pay. Accordingly, it is to be expected that the quality of care will dwindle. At the expense of all. Because an intensive care bed without enough staff is simply a bed after an accident.
That we have vaccination is a privilege and a blessing. But it does not protect anyone from the unpredictability of life. The utilization of intensive care beds affects everyone and anyone. For the time being, all remain highly vulnerable.
Nora Zukker is responsible for literature at the Tamedia editorial office. Before that, she worked for Radio SRF, focusing on contemporary literature. She also writes about socially relevant issues for the Life department.