All Major Hospitals Filled with COVID-19 Patients

COVID patients at hospitals in Sri Lanka

Due to a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, some hospitals have reached maximum capacity, and have been forced to declare an emergency. Most hospitals have run out of the facilities available to treat COVID-19 infected people, and sources said due to a sudden spike in people infected with COVID pneumonia the ICU facilities had also become scarce.

Hence, health authorities warned the rate of deaths from the illness could increase alarmingly in the coming days and weeks. It is further claimed the impending COVID-19 situation could also seriously and adversely affect the staff of health institutions islandwide.

Meanwhile, due to the overnight increase in COVID-19 infected patients, the wards set aside at State hospitals for treatment had reached maximum capacity and it is reported presently hospitals are struggling to cater to the increasing demand day in and day out.

It is stated that at hospitals such as Colombo National, Colombo South Teaching Hospital (Kalubowila), Karapitiya Teaching, Gampaha, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Colombo North (Ragama) in one bed at least three COVID19 patients had been put up for treatment for want of beds. It is said the situation at Ragama Hospital had reached its breaking point.

Sources said around 500 COVID-19 infected patients are treated there and a majority of them had been forced to lie on mattresses in the hospital corridor, waiting for their chance to occupy a bed in the wards which had been filled to capacity. Meanwhile, a few patients alleged that even corpses of COVID-19 patients had been placed in the hospital corridor, without disposing it, which could also be a serious health risk to all concerned.

They also charged that toilet facilities at the Ragama Hospital were also not up to scratch and when contacted regarding the allegations the Director of the Hospital, Dr. Liyanage Ranasinghe had this to say “Our Hospital is the only Teaching Hospital available in the entire Gampaha District. For over a year now the number of COVID19 infected patients being admitted here had shown a marked increase and we decided to set aside 10 of our wards for treatment. Our Wards 26 and 30 have been allocated towards the treatment of these patients who are admitted here daily.

We categorise these patients under three segments and they are all subjected to rapid antigen tests. Following this, those who show minor symptoms are advised to undergo home quarantine. Any other patients who show serious symptoms are sent to hospitals situated in areas such as Kandana and Minuwangoda. The remaining patients are admitted to Ward 7 and they are sent there depending on the number of beds.” When inquired about the situation at Wards 26 and 30, Dr. Ranasinghe stated “There are only 24 beds available at Ward 26. There are 83 COVID-19 infected patients. There are only 28 beds at Ward 30 and it has to cater to 57 patients stricken with this virus.

It is due to this crisis that we had been compelled to force patients to be put up in our corridor. Due to the alarming increase in the number of patients that are admitted here we are presently unable to cope with it. It must not be forgotten that at this Hospital there are patients who are being treated for various other illnesses as well and it is not just COVID-19 that we have to focus on.

These patients cannot be sent to other Hospitals. We held talks regarding this unbearable situation yesterday. If things were to get out of hand we may be forced to shut down a few other wards and allocate them towards the treatment of COVID19 patients. People are criticising us and the situation at our wards had been videoed and distributed in society.” An emergency situation has been declared at Teaching Hospital Karapitiya and Ratnapura following the steep increase of COVID-19 patients.

According to Acting Director of Teaching Hospital Karapitiya, Dr. Shelton Perera, the decision had been taken as there was an increase not only in the number of patients at the hospital, but also in its Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Dr. Perera had issued an internal circular in this connection to all medical officers and Unit Heads, requesting them to inform the area Medical Officers of Health (MOHs) and Regional Epidemiologists and make room for patients without COVID complications or without breathing difficulties to provide home care till they are transferred to interim care facilities. Director of Teaching Hospital Ratnapura, Dr. Anoj Rodrigo declared an emergency situation on Tuesday (3) to expand treatment facilities for COVID patients, limiting the provision of some medical services.

Elsewhere, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi paid an ‘emergency visit’ to Teaching Hospital Ragama following wide publicity of patients having to sleep on the floor due to the shortage of beds at the Hospital. Wanniarachchi noted that the COVID infected patients are being admitted to a COVID ward, where they are placed under medical observation, when it was decided as to whether they should be sent to the ICU, an interim care facility, a COVID care centre, or whether they should remain in home care. She said discussions had been held with authorities of the Teaching Hospital Ragama to separate more wards for treating COVID patients and to add more wards if there is further congestion.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director General, Medical Services, Dr. Lal Panapitiya, addressing the Media, said there was an influx of COVID symptomatic patients seeking hospital admission. There was also an increase in the number of patients developing complications either owing to the disease or complicating a disease they already had.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Amra Liyakath, L. Niroshana, Farhan Nisamdit)

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