Emergency mobile hospitals in Santiago to treat bout of respiratory diseases
Faced with a critical season of respiratory diseases and an increasingly unmet demand for medical services, Chilean authorities announced two military mobile hospital centres will be installed in Santiago this week.
The Military Mobile Attention Centres will help serve more patients during a winter of poor air quality that has caused an increase in respiratory illnesses.
“We are preparing ourselves to confront the most agitated period in reference to respiratory illnesses, the syncytial virus, temperature changes and bad ventilation conditions we have been having,” President Sebastian Piñera announced on Wednesday.
Hospitals have had to suspended “elected admission” and “have to improvise as they are short of more than 600 beds in Santiago”, according to Assistant Secretary of Chile’s Health Care Network (Redes Asistenciales) Luis Castillo.
Public hospitals are notorious in Chile for being understaffed and having overcrowded waiting rooms. This weekend the Santiago media claimed that an elderly woman in Santiago waited over 10 hours for treatment after suffering a stroke.
According to Piñera, the high levels of pollution and temperature changes have caused a 70% increase in the number of respiratory disease cases compared to last year. Santiago is ranked the third worst city in the world for air pollution.
“The high number of people in hospitals depends on the periods of time,” Camilo Cid, health economics professor at Chile’s Universidad Catolica told The Santiago Times. “For example, during winter, there will be more people in hospitals due to flu and respiratory problems, but there are other periods where there aren’t that many people.”
Cid said increased investment and manning in hospitals should help the problem.
“What hospitals and medical specialists need are greater and better resources from government” he said. “With more resources hospitals will also improve the current management situation”.
The first newly-installed facility, a “Specialized Medical Attention Post” (PAME DR) is situated next to the Pediatric Service of Hospital Félix Bulnes in Santiago. It holds 20 patients and began service Wednesday afternoon.
The second unit, an “Army Campaign Mobile Hospital” (HMCE), was set up on Thursday next to the Paediatric Emergency Service at the Hospital Padre Hurtado, also in Santiago and with a similar capacity.
“This way, we will be able to better confront this extraordinary emergency situation that we are living, and that unfortunately is forecasted to continue during the coming weeks,” Piñera said.
By Sumy Sadurni - The Santiago Times