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SOME PATIENTS MIGHT HAVE TO TRAVEL LONG DISTANCES TO RECEIVE HEALTH CARE

Hospitals draw up crisis plans

POSTPONING planned operations and examinations, moving acute cases and deliveries of newborns to other hospitals, and merging wards: these are the main features of the crisis plans that hospitals have drawn up to cope in the event that protesting hospital doctors do not withdraw their resignations and choose to stay at home from December 1.

POSTPONING planned operations and examinations, moving acute cases and deliveries of newborns to other hospitals, and merging wards: these are the main features of the crisis plans that hospitals have drawn up to cope in the event that protesting hospital doctors do not withdraw their resignations and choose to stay at home from December 1.

Health Minister Ivan Uhliarik was scheduled to present a crisis plan, which has recently been keeping the Health Ministry’s crisis team busy, to the members of parliament’s committee for health care on November 28. Although President Ivan Gašparovič announced on November 23 he would not let the crisis situation happen, and presented his resolution to ask the cabinet to declare a state of emergency to oblige the doctors to work by law, hospitals went on drawing up crisis plans.
Meanwhile the ministry has already specified which hospitals and regions would be most affected by the mass resignations of doctors. Among them are the teaching hospitals for children in Bratislava and in Košice.

The northern region of Žilina so far appears to be the most problematic on the ministry’s crisis map, since almost half of hospital doctors there have submitted their resignations.
“After December 1 we will not be able to provide acute health care in the hospitals of the Žilina Self-Governing Region (ŽSK) and we will have to provide it in cooperation with the state hospitals we have got in the region,” ŽSK president Juraj Blanár said after meeting Uhliarik on November 22. He specified that the teaching hospital in Martin is expected to provide the necessary help, since only a few doctors there have resigned.But such hospitals are expected to be flooded with patients and will only be able to work in crisis mode, Blanár added.

In the event the doctors stay at home, all the wards at Žilina hospital will only be able to operate in emergency mode, Sme reported.

Moving patients to more distant hospitals also appears to be the only solution for hospitals in Liptovský Mikuláš, Trstená and Dolný Kubín, which have found no replacements for the doctors who plan to leave on December 1. The departing doctors include almost all surgeons, orthopaedic doctors, CT and X-ray specialists and anaesthesiologists.

“As early as November 28 we will start transporting acute patients to hospitals in Ružomberok and Martin, where they promised us help,” the director of the hospital in Dolný Kubín, Jozef Mintál, told the Sme daily.

Several hospitals around the country are struggling with a potential lack of gynaecologists and obstetricians, and admit that after December 1 mothers-to-be will have to travel long distances to give birth – in some cases even cross-border solutions are being considered. Such is the case at the hospital in Skalica, in western Slovakia, whose director Patrik Fiala told the Sme daily that it might send mothers to Trnava or even to the Czech towns of Kyjov or Břeclav.

Likewise, the hospital in Trstená is considering redirecting expectant mothers to Ružomberok or hospitals in the nearby Polish towns of Zakopane and Nowy Targ. The hospital in Trenčín is also planning to send mothers to other hospitals in the region, some of them up to 50 kilometres distant.
The teaching hospital for children in Košice has already announced that it will probably work according to a vacation schedule, the Sme daily reported.

Another option for hospitals to ease their workload after the departure of the 2,000 or more doctors who have submitted their resignations is to postpone planned treatments and to focus on acute cases that cannot be postponed.

“In the surgery ward I have no way to secure the functioning of the anaesthesiology-resuscitation department as we are left with two retired doctors who are not able to run the department,” Fiala, Skalica hospital’s director, said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. He added that the hospital has already limited planned surgery.

Skalica is the one hospital in Trnava Region whose functioning will be most seriously affected by the departure of doctors. Fiala admitted they might have to close some wards and send patients to other hospitals in the region instead.

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