The Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS) on Wednesday conducted a large-scale transfer of coronavirus patients from a saturated Escalante Pradilla Hospital in Pérez Zeledón.
According to the CCSS, the hospital has up to 30 beds available for COVID-19 patients, but 41 patients required a spot by early Wednesday. As a result, 11 patients were transferred via flight or ambulance across the 150 km from Pérez Zeledón to San José-area hospitals.
Since Friday, “we began to see an irregular increase in hospitalizations from what we were used to,” said Carlos Argüello, acting hospital director.
More transfers of coronavirus patients may be necessary this week.
“We already have the full capacity again. We still have 30 [COVID-19] patients hospitalized at the moment,” Argüello said, per La Nación.
Escalante Pradilla Hospital receives people from southern Costa Rica, including Pérez Zeledón, Coto Brus, Corredores, Buenos Aires and Osa.
As of Wednesday, 572 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 across Costa Rica; the country has registered 1,739 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic began.
Costa Rica prepares for year-end hospitalizations
The CCSS says that delaying non-urgent consultations is one of the factors resulting in fewer overall appointments in 2020 compared to 2019.
However, the public-health body is anticipating an uptick in hospitalizations in December — due to both COVID-19 and other emergencies that become more common at the end of the year, including burns and traffic accidents.
“Medical management before the pandemic was in a process of standardization of emergency services and this effort was important so that in the face of the pandemic we had coordinated and organized emergency services,” said Mario Ruíz, CCSS medical manager.
Costa Rican authorities emphasized the need for a “Safe Christmas” and asked citizens to celebrate the holidays responsibly in midst of the pandemic — including avoiding interactions with people outside the social bubble.