A third of the intensive care beds in Baden-Württemberg are already occupied by corona patients. The first hospitals are therefore postponing predictable operations. Doctors fear a further increase.
Because the number of corona patients in intensive care units in the country is increasing sharply, clinics in the country are increasingly preparing for a third wave. Götz Geldner, coordinator of intensive care for corona patients in Baden-Württemberg, reports that the number of corona patients has increased by 20 percent compared to the previous week. “If the number of intensive care patients continues to rise, we’ll have a problem in one to two weeks,” said Geldner.
A third of the intensive care beds nationwide are already occupied by corona patients, according to Geldner. As soon as the occupancy goes in the direction of 40 percent, operations that are not among the most urgent would have to be postponed to a greater extent, according to Geldner. For a few days now, the number of clinics that describe their operations as restricted has exceeded the number of clinics with regular operations.
88 percent of the intensive care beds in the country are occupied
The number of corona patients in intensive treatment in Baden-Württemberg has been increasing sharply since mid-March. While it was 236 on March 10, on Wednesday (as of 4 p.m.) 468 people were treated in intensive care for a Covid 19 disease, according to the data in the Divi intensive care register. 245 of these are ventilated invasively. Of the around 2,400 operable intensive care beds in the country, 88 percent are currently occupied, two thirds of them with Covid 19 patients.
The first clinics postpone operations
The Mittelbaden Clinic at its three locations in Rastatt, Baden-Baden and Bühl canceled all movable operations in order to bundle capacities, a spokeswoman said. The Ulm University Hospital is also postponing operations that can be planned well. There, the number of corona intensive care patients rose by 50 percent over Easter – the most significant increase in Baden-Württemberg to date.
The situation is tense in the Schwäbisch Hall corona hotspot. The intensive care unit at the Crailsheim Clinic was last almost completely occupied. There and in the Diak Clinic in Schwäbisch Hall, operations have already been canceled or postponed, according to the district office.
In the SLK clinics in the city and district of Heilbronn, however, another Covid station with 20 beds will be set up in the coming week. In order to have enough staff, the standard supply will have to be restricted. Operations that can be planned should not be postponed for the time being. Even if the number of corona patients increases, operating theaters should remain in operation, says SLK managing director Thomas Weber.
More and younger patients
In all clinics in Baden-Württemberg, when you look at the patients who have to be treated for Covid-19, the same picture emerges: the average age is falling. Around half of the patients are under 40 years old, the other half between 40 and 70, reports Simone Britsch, Head of Conservative Intensive Care Medicine at Mannheim University Hospital, about the situation in the clinic. In addition, more patients need an intensive care stay. In the University Clinic Mannheim, the numbers have increased so much that the second intensive care unit had to be opened, according to Britsch.
Advantage through vaccinated staff
The hospitals in the Stuttgart region see themselves largely well prepared for the third corona wave. According to the managing director of the Esslingen Clinic, Matthias Ziegler, the main difference to the second wave is the vaccination of hospital staff. During the second wave, several stations had to be closed because staff were infected or in quarantine.
Is the Easter effect coming?
Many clinics fear a further increase in intensive care patients in the coming days and weeks. The Ulm University Clinic expects the numbers to rise over the next 14 days, while other clinics expect the number of infections to increase in the middle or end of April. We are currently in an exponential part of the third wave, says, for example, the medical director of the Mittelbaden Clinic, Thomas Iber. The development is dramatic.
Although the trend of new corona infections is currently falling, the Robert Koch Institute points out that fewer cases are reported over the Easter holidays. The intensive care doctor Götz Geldner also assumes that the numbers are not meaningful.
Geldner was resigned to possible political countermeasures. Politicians and citizens are now equally responsible. There is still a lack of a concept to cope with the pandemic. The current approach is aimless and haphazard.
“What should be different than in the wave before? Everyone knows what will happen now.”
An important way out of the crisis for Geldner is vaccination. But for the current sharp increase in the number of corona cases, he does not expect this to help. The workers in the intensive care units have not been able to breathe deeply since the second wave, the work is very stressful for them, said Geldner.