Stockholm healthcare chief calls for help from public as ICUs reach 99 percent capacity

The Local Sweden
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Stockholm healthcare chief calls for help from public as ICUs reach 99 percent capacity
An intensive care worker in a Stockholm hospital. File photo: Staffan Löwstedt / SvD / TT

The intensive care units in the Swedish capital region Stockholm reached 99 percent capacity on Tuesday for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, as the region's head of healthcare called on all Stockholmers to follow recommendations more strictly.


As of Wednesday, there were 83 patients with Covid-19 in the region's intensive care units, a slight fall from 89 on Tuesday.

"That is equivalent to the total number of intensive care places which we have available normally," said Björn Eriksson, healthcare director for the region, at a press conference. Stockholm has made more intensive care places available during the pandemic, but on Tuesday, these approximately 160 care places reached 99 percent capacity, including Covid-19 and other patients.

Eriksson said Stockholm's healthcare workers were so overworked that he had formally asked the National Board of Health and Welfare for specialist nurses and nursing assistants to be sent from other regions, and has asked private health caregivers to make their staff available too if possible.

And he said that while the healthcare system was working to make places available, there were "not large margins", partly because the winter has meant more people are seeking care for other emergencies.


He noted this was in general a good thing, because early intervention can reduce the total amount of care needed and the overall risk to health when it comes to issues like heart problems – but called for help from everyone living in Stockholm.

There were more Covid-19 patients in intensive care in spring, reaching a peak of 230, but the healthcare system was able to cope with this thanks only to huge efforts such as an emergency field hospital, pausing some non-essential care, and other crisis measures.

Right now there are no plans to reopen the emergency field hospital, with Eriksson telling the TT newswire: "We can get the capacity that the field hospital would offer in the existing healthcare facilities in Stockholm. We have shown that we can scale up earlier. But now we have colleagues who have worked in this way for a whole year and are of course having a very tough time."

'Everyone needs to follow the recommendations, not just 'many''

"Right now, 814 people are fighting in our hospitals to survive and recover," said Eriksson, referring to the total number of Covid-19 patients in hospital, not just intensive care units.

"It's enough now. It cannot be worth [risking increased illness and deaths] to have after-work drinks, to socialise outside your own household, crowding to do Christmas shopping, meeting for advent fika even if it's what we want to do. The consequences are awful.

"So I need help. Every parent, talk with your children – everyone can suffer serious illness [from Covid-19] even though it's more common for elderly people or those with underlying symptoms," he said.


"Help out by not only saying 'no' if you get an invitation to socialise outside your household, but also inform the person who invited you that it is a bad idea to have this kind of event at all."

He also urged those who had experienced serious illness from Covid-19 or who had worked in the healthcare sector to describe their experience to others, to show "what an awful disease this is".

"We need more people to understand that having a beer after work with some colleagues can have disastrous consequences. I know that many are working patiently to follow the guidelines and recommendations. But now we have to ensure that it is not only 'many', but everyone, who follows the recommendations," urged Eriksson.

He said that the current serious situation, and recent rise in coronavirus cases requiring hospital care was directly linked to people's actions.

"This shows that we Stockholmers have been in crowded environments too much, and had too many contacts outside the household we live in," said Eriksson.



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Anonymous 2020/12/09 23:00
This happens every winter, only this time it's used to instill fear in people.<br />It's high season for illnesses.
Anonymous 2020/12/09 18:44
So much for the Swedish strategy (a dismal failure).

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