Winter illness and bed shortages put Madrid hospital under strain
The emergency ward at Madrid's La Paz hospital was on the verge of breakdown Thursday.
4 January 2008
MADRID - The emergency ward at Madrid's La Paz hospital was on the verge of breakdown Thursday as an increased number of patients suffering from winter illnesses such as flu and colds, stretched the hospital's resources to the limit.
In a scene that union representatives complain is played out each winter, patients lined hallways and waiting rooms, many seated on chairs due to a lack of beds. Some were even placed in the photocopying room.
"We are at the brink of collapse... one floor of the hospital is closed and they haven't increased the personnel," Manuela Hernán, a worker at the hospital and representative of the CC OO union, complained. "The staff and the patients are burnt out. You can't have someone who is ill sitting for hour after hour, or in bed in a hallway where they have no privacy."
Union representatives say such scenes are frequent each year at La Paz and at other hospitals across Spain even though seasonal increases in patient numbers due to colder weather and the spread of flu and other viruses should be predictable.
In a statement released yesterday, La Paz's directors denied that the emergency ward was struggling to cope and called the union's complaints "unfounded."
"There has been an increase in the number of patients and we have taken the necessary measures," the statement said. "It is totally false they we do not have capacity to care for these people."
La Paz serves a population of 800,000 people in northern Madrid. Its emergency ward treats 800 people each day on average.
[Copyright El Pais 2008]
Subject: Spanish news