Winter Ills: Sheba ER at 300% Occupancy

February 3, 2015  

With winter at its illness-inducing peak, the Emergency Room at the Sheba Medical Center passed 300% occupancy Monday, with 125 patients competing for 39 beds, writes Yisrael Hayom.

Patients who were brought to the ER by Magen David Adom ambulances waited in line outside the ER, and this, apparently, was an improvement over the situation on Sunday.

The ER usually suffers this kind of overflow when the wards are full, and patients have nowhere to go from the ER. This was not the case Monday, however. According to the Ari Shamis, General Hospital Manager at Sheba, “at any given moment, we have more than 100 respirated patients who are placed in the wards, and not at the ER. The time it takes to care for each patient is longer, and the waiting time in the ER is also long.”

“When waiting for a bed in the corridor becomes a luxury – I call that a humiliation,” Sheba Director Prof. Zeev Rothstein told Yisrael Hayom. “The situation is only getting worse. The health system is not an important subject in the election campaign – it must be less important than Mrs. Netanyahu’s bottles.”

Rothstein said that occupancy in the children’s wards is 160%, while a new ward with 80 beds is empty – because the hospital lacks the manpower to staff it.

The Health Ministry confirmed that there is “a great load” on the hospitals, which require additional funds, especially for the Emergency Rooms. It said that it is working on a professional plan regarding the hospitalization system, together with the Finance Ministry, which will be brought to the next government’s approval.

The Ministry of Health recently reported that the number of hospital beds per population declined 11% in nine years.

As of mid-2014, there were just 1.87 beds per every 1,000 people in Israel, compared to 1.91 in 2010 and 2.09 in 2005.

The Ministry of Health stated that the trend is “worrying,” but did note that the decline appears to be slowing. That may be due, in part, to a government decision to add 960 beds to Israel’s hospitals over several years in 2010.

A total of 699 beds were added over a four-year period, of which 157 were added in 2014 alone.

According to Professor Arnon Afek, Director-General of the Ministry of Health.

“The downside is that there is still a decline in the number of beds per capita,” he stated. “This is an alarming trend.”

“On the other hand, we have begun to see more and more beds being added, as per the government’s decision,” Afek added. “This is a process that takes time to implement.”

According to Afek, in May 2014 there were 15,290 beds for general care in Israeli hospitals – most of which (15,139) were for inpatients and just 151 for geriatric care.

And therein lies the problem, Afek says: there are not enough beds for Israel’s elderly.

“While there is an increase in the younger population, at the same time we are witnessing an increase in the number of elderly patients who need hospitalization,” Afek said. “Therefore, efforts to increase beds have just not been enough.”

For the period from January to May 2014, there were 1,588 beds used on a standard day, of which 1,108 beds were given for general care patients, 303 for psychiatric outpatients, 105 for the chronically ill and 72 for patients in rehabilitation wards.

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