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Covid saturation in Costa Rica forcing patients to wait for hospital beds

April 28, 2021

Costa Rica on Tuesday reached 789 people hospitalized with Covid-19, an amount that has forced some patients to wait for available beds.

Miguel Ángel Villalobos, head of emergencies at San Juan de Dios Hospital in San José, said that “at least 40 people per day” with non-Covid pathologies are being made to wait for space.

This includes patients who require surgery after a car accident, or who have suffered heart attacks or strokes, the emergency physician explained.

On Monday night, 13 patients with Covid-19 had to wait up to 12 hours for a bed at public hospitals, La Nación reported.

“The beds that are freed up are from patients who died,” said Mario Ruiz, medical manager for the Social Security System (Caja), which runs Costa Rica’s public hospitals.

As of Tuesday, 340 patients with Covid-19 required an intensive-care (ICU) bed, the most in Costa Rica during the pandemic.

The Caja says it has installed a temporary shelter at San Juan de Dios Hospital that adds 20 beds for moderate to severe Covid-19 patients.

“Patients who are completing antibiotics and are close to discharge will be transferred here,” said Ileana Balmaceda Arias, the general director of San Juan de Dios Hospital.

“This is how we release beds faster in the medical area and enable more Covid-19 beds.”

A new floor at Hospital Mexico in San José has also been enabled to exclusively treat Covid-19 patients, and the Caja is also coordinating with private hospitals to increase capacity.

But if current trends continue, “we will not have enough hospital beds to care for all people at the same time, be it due to Covid or other pathologies,” said Román Macaya, CCSS president.

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