Hospitals throughout Chile are converting many of their operating rooms into centres for acute respiratory infections, in an effort to cope with the expected dramatic increase of flu-related problems caused by the recent cold weather and storms.
Scheduled surgeries have been postponed, small crawl spaces have been converted into halls, and a large number of cribs have been added in many hospitals throughout the country.
The Assistance Networks Undersecretary Luis Castillo said that more than 300 paediatric beds and some 525 adult beds had been added in the Santiago Metropolitan Region, and that a similar effort was taking place in areas with a high percentage of beds with intensive care equipment.
The anticipated increase of respiratory problems is due to the stormy weather and cold that has been and will continue to impact south central Chile.
“We expect 10 to 15 days of a lot of activity, especially for the children,” Castillo said. The situation “may worsen in the next seven days,” he added, saying that “the clinics should be open this weekend.”
On Wednesday, Dr. Pedro Astudillo and Dr. Pedro Mancilla, who have run government programs on respiratory diseases for the past 16 years, criticized the slow addition of beds and the ineffectiveness of the campaigns to prevent infections.
They also said children under the age of 3 who displayed signs of infection, such as a cough, should receive immediate consultation, as the flu virus presents few symptoms among children.
This led to the undersecretary requesting that all criticism should be made in private, and not to the news media.
When asked about the hospitals’ need of funds to be better able to provide quality public health services, the undersecretary said, “To have an increase in spending, there is a basic requirement, which is to improve the level of efficiency and to seek to streamline and enhance access and resolution toward certain illnesses.”
In the Santiago metropolitan area, 129 adult beds were added for the Central Health Service, 105 for the South East, 70 to the South, 99 to the West, 45 to 77 for North and East, according to Castillo.
By Radhika Sanghani – Santiago Times