Are primary care nurses

Japanese hospitals can barely provide basic services

Japanese hospitals are under increasing pressure because of the rise in infections, and more and more medical staff are warning that the health system will not hold out much longer.

The medical staff fighting on the front lines has reached their limit, some say the beds are constantly occupied and there are not enough nurses.

Hospitals have too few staff

At Kawakita General Hospital on Suginami Station in Tokyo, which mainly deals with coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, 30 beds for coronavirus patients are almost full.

Since these patients have to be housed in separate rooms to prevent infections, rooms for 76 beds, i.e. around 20 percent of the total number in the hospital, are actually used for corona patients.

"If the number of coronavirus patients continues to rise, we will have no choice but to refuse admission," said Yoichi Sugimura, the hospital's director.

The situation is also serious in the core hospitals for seriously ill coronavirus patients.

The Tokyo Medical and Dental University Hospital in the capital's Bunkyo Ward is struggling to admit new patients as all eight beds for seriously ill coronavirus patients are occupied due to their extended hospital stays.

"Usually coronavirus patients recover in about two weeks, but with the increasing number of older patients who need more time to recover, it is now taking some time to get beds for new patients," said Shinichi Uchida, director of the hospital .

Treating a coronavirus patient in severe condition requires about four times more medical staff than is normally required in an intensive care unit. If you take into account the hospital's human resources, it can only offer eight beds, according to the hospital.

"Some of these patients die even if we do our best," Uchida said, adding that the stress of not knowing when the situation is improving is enormous for medical staff. "I wonder how long we can go on with the current system."

The first hospitals in Hokkaido suspend outpatient care

In Hokkaido, too, the daily number of new cases of corona infections is still high, which has an impact on regular medical care in Hokkaido.

At a Sapporo hospital where an infection cluster was emerging, a number of nurses and other staff infected with the virus were placed in quarantine, forcing the hospital to limit emergency room operations and provide outpatient care for about two weeks suspend.

The hospital is currently offering prescriptions to outpatients without seeing them in person. The bed occupancy rate for coronavirus patients is also high in the hospital.

"We cannot accept any more patients because it is difficult for us to get workers," said a hospital spokesman.

More and more hospitals are also reporting that their staff are quitting because the work situation is increasingly stressful for people.

It is also becoming increasingly difficult for emergency personnel in Sapporo to find a hospital that can accept an emergency patient.

In October and November, as the number of new cases increased, 724 emergency patients were turned down from three or more hospitals, more than twice as many as the previous year.

In addition to the shortage of hospital beds, it is believed that some hospitals have been reluctant to admit patients to avoid the risk of internal infection.

"No fewer than 63 people were turned down by nine or more hospitals, even though some were in a situation where every second counts," said an ambulance worker.