The CHUIMI Hospital is operating at full capacity in ICU and wards

  • Canarian Weekly
  • 20-12-2023
  • Gran Canaria
  • Photo Credit: Gobierno de Canarias
The CHUIMI Hospital is operating at full capacity in ICU and wards

The Insular Hospital (CHUIMI) in Gran Canaria is currently running at full capacity in both its Intensive Care Unit and general wards. The management attributes the congestion in the Emergency Department to a shortage of hospital beds, leaving more than 100 patients distributed throughout the corridors and waiting areas of the Emergency Department, as explained by Dácil Cárdenes, the Deputy Medical Director of the Hospital.

"We are a tertiary-level hospital and are obliged to keep our doors open to the needs of the population in the south of Gran Canaria. We do not have a set limit," stated Dr. Cárdenes, emphasizing that the Emergency Department is currently assisting between 200 to 250 people per day. However, in the last week, the daily count has reached up to 300 people.

This figure surpasses the physical capacity of the service, equipped with around a hundred treatment rooms and 30 pre-hospitalization beds where patients awaiting admission are temporarily accommodated.

"The hospital is full. There are patients awaiting admission in the Emergency Department because we are at 100% occupancy in hospital beds and the ICU due to complicated cases of influenza and COVID-19," she said. However, despite physical limitations, she assures that patient care will not be compromised.

"We don't want to have patients in the corridors, and the Emergency Department staff is doing a great job of providing the best quality care and dignified treatment to patients, but we have to find alternative spaces to accommodate them until a hospitalization bed becomes available," Dr Cárdenes explained.

She noted that there are over a hundred people discharged from the Insular with medical clearance, occupying hospitalization beds that should be reserved for acute patients awaiting placement in socio-sanitary resources.

Regarding ICU saturation, the doctor clarified that there is a specific contingency plan for the critical care unit that has not been activated so far.

Causes of the extreme occupancy of hospital beds

The surge in Emergency Department visits is attributed to the resurgence of respiratory infections, particularly COVID-19 and influenza A, according to Dr. Cárdenes. "Some require hospitalization, and among them, some need admission to the ICU," she clarified, adding that the most acute cases predominantly affect older people with chronic or multiple pathologies.

"We are dealing with an ageing population that requires urgent care," she said. In addition to these cases, the hospital continues to handle usual emergencies such as accidents, fractures, and breakages, as well as other conditions requiring urgent attention.

Measures being taken

To address the issue of overcrowding due to increased demand and hospital admissions, the hospital has activated a contingency plan. This includes hiring additional staff: "We have added one doctor per shift and reinforced nursing, cleaning, and porter staff," said Cárdenes.

The plan also involves "mobilizing specialists from other fields to work on weekends and evenings to expedite discharges." Another measure to alleviate the Emergency Department is to promote home hospitalizations, where patients receive visits from a medical team at their residences.

However, she asserts that hospital discharges are not being rushed, and there is no information about the Emergency Department attending to patients experiencing relapses after premature discharges.