María Perugachi accompanied her sister to the cardiology specialty at the Eugenio Espejo hospital, in the historic center of Quito, last Friday. Since November 2021 she has been treated for a heart problem.
The decrease in COVID-19 cases has allowed some care that was suspended in hospitals in the capital of the Republic to be reactivated.
As of the third week of April 2022, and gradually, a hospital reconversion process has been applied that refers to treating other pathologies.
In that month, in Quito hospitals that are part of the Ministry of Public Health (MSP) there were no longer any patients suffering from coronavirus in intensive care units (ICU).
For this reason, the first thing that was enabled was intensive therapy.
The drop in occupancy for hospitalization was slower. Once the spaces were freed, it has been destined for post-surgical patients.
In January 2022, when there was a peak in infections, there were 60 beds for hospitalization; its occupancy reached 95%. Currently there are seven and, of them, two are occupied.
In the ICU there were 42 beds with an occupancy rate of 95%. There are currently two available, both of which have no patient occupancy.
The occupancy rate for COVID-19 does not exceed 10%.
The Pablo Arturo Suárez hospital, which is located in the north of the city, was designated to treat the pandemic as a priority.
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Juan Quizanga, zonal responsible for the provision of services and quality of Zone 9, which corresponds to the Quito Metropolitan District of the MSP, mentioned that they have constantly attended to the COVID-19 emergency, as well as other diseases.
“What does happen when the demand for services due to COVID-19 pathology increases is that, generally, the waiting list for pathologies, let’s say, not COVID-19 increases a little,” he indicated.
The waiting list refers to those pathologies that are not emergencies.
The demand for external consultation fell due to the restrictive measures, both in 2020 and in 2021, but for this year it has increased.
Respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, skin diseases, digestive complications, among others, are treated in the outpatient clinic.
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Other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and hypothyroidism, have remained —he added— “a little relegated by users”, but they are returning to their treatments.
A previous reconversion occurred in the last quarter of 2021, when there was a decrease in infections; but in January and February the cases increased and the pandemic was once again the priority.
At the Carlos Andrade Marín hospital (HCAM) of the IESS, since January there are no longer any patients with COVID-19. It is located in the north center of the city.
In the most complicated moments of the pandemic, of the almost 595 beds that this health house has, some 400 in hospitalization were destined to attend to infections. Then, the nine rooms that were opened began to close.
With the start of the vaccination program, hospital care caused by the virus went down. In Ecuador, the immunization plan against the coronavirus started in January 2021.
While the emergency service was not suspended and there was a decrease in surgeries, the outpatient clinic was closed.
Then, and as an alternative, teleconsultation began to be used, by telephone.
By the beginning of 2021, teleconsultation increased to 20%, and face-to-face consultation increased to 80%. This year, 100% face-to-face attendance was resumed.
Mauricio Heredia, hospitalization and outpatient coordinator of the HCAM, mentioned that they have proposed, above all, clinical care for recurrent patients, who already have a diagnosis and who have already attended that health home.
“COVID-19 caused a backlog of surgeries (…), and priority has been given to patients (…) who are waiting. And little by little we are returning to normality,” Heredia said.
He estimates a damming, for example, in traumatology of some 3,000 scheduled surgeries. Those operations should have been done in 2019, 2020.
At the moment, surgeries are at 70%, because 8 of the 16 operating rooms are being remodeled; while attention to the public, 100%. But if a person is looking for a new date, he will not get it right away.
A person who went to the HCAM said that he was referred to a laboratory for follow-up tests in a case of suspected cancer, while in other cases they still have to wait.
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According to the Minister of Health, Ximena Garzón, the health services that have been overwhelmed by patients with COVID-19 for the last two years are being reactivated.
“This meant that many patients who needed surgeries, intensive care, could not access that service; therefore, they died, ”said the official. (I)