“If the number of seriously ill Covid patients exceeds the number in the second wave, we will be in a critical situation,” said Martin Kreis, director of patient care at Germany’s largest university hospital.
Kreis said that the Charité hit its upper capacity limit at the beginning of the year due to the high number of severe Covid cases in intensive care units.
In January, the hospital had to stop accepting patients from clinics in other German states.
At the same time, the Berlin hospital never had to transfer any Corona patients outside of the capital.
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“We will continue to do everything we can to care for patients from the surrounding region as well,” Kreis pledged.
The number of new admissions to Charité’s intensive care units has risen significantly in the past two weeks. Kreis said that the age group between 30 and 60, which has had little chance of being vaccinated, is now particularly affected.
“The trend is clear, and it is forcing us to react,” he said, adding that a reserve intensive care unit has been fully reopened. In addition, scheduled surgeries that can be postponed have been cancelled.
Since a large proportion of Charité staff have now been vaccinated, concerns at clinics that staff would be absent due to infections and quarantine have been reduced.
Meanwhile, Kreis affirmed that staff at the hospital are still motivated to take on the challenge of dealing with a rise in patients. But he said that some staff were showing signs of exhaustion after months of high patient numbers and fatalities.
At the Charité, about one-third of ventilated Covid patients have died so far.
Intensive care specialists in the capital have warned that an overload of intensive care units is imminent.
Steffen Weber-Carstens, medical director of the German Association for Intensive Care Units (Divi), said that an additional 100 ventilated Covid patients had been treated in intensive care units in the capital in the past three weeks.
Currently, there are about 280 patients in the capital receiving ventilation, with 90 at the Charité alone, which treats the most severe cases.