The coronavirus has been rampant for almost two years, in the current omicron wave there have been maximum values for the incidence at seven days. The situation in the district’s two primary care clinics has not yet calmed down. “At the moment, the occupancy of the hospitals is still increasing,” says Martin Dotzer of the Murnau accident clinic, who, as medical director, coordinates the hospitals of the special purpose association in Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen, Weilheim- Schongau and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. According to Dotzer, the occupation always occurs two to three weeks after the wave of infected people, which is currently falling again. “I hope we will soon reach the top”.
On Thursday in the Wolfratshausen district clinic 21 infected people were treated in the normal ward and 14 in the Asklepios clinic in Bad Tölz. There were three Covid patients in the intensive care unit in Tölz and only one in Wolfratshausen – a big difference from the previous waves. More Covid patients than ever are currently being treated in the regular ward, but as the infected are no longer as seriously ill and need not be cared for for long, the intensive care capabilities are no longer fully utilized by Corona. “In the delta wave late last year, ICU beds were a scarce commodity,” says Dotzer, who coordinates patient distribution in the four districts. “We had to transfer a lot of patients to other federal states because we didn’t have enough beds here.”
That changed in the omicron wave, Dotzer says – but last week he had to transfer patients from Wolfratshausen District Clinic to other hospitals. Because those affected are usually no longer as severely ill, the transfer is not as time-critical as with ICU patients, he explains. But every Covid patient still means a lot of commitment, even in the normal ward: “People must be isolated,” says the hospital coordinator.
“You have to work much more carefully”
Overall, hospital work has become much more complex due to Corona, says Ingo Kühn, managing director of the Wolfratshausen District Clinic. In the emergency room, staff must work with protective equipment. Every hospitalized patient is tested for Covid. In the care of corona patients, doctors and nurses must change their protective equipment in every room. “You have to work much more carefully. For example, if something is forgotten, it cannot be recovered immediately,” explains Kühn. Also, working with FFP2 masks is stressful for staff. If a patient becomes infected with corona during inpatient treatment despite a previous negative test, further tests should be done on the ward and patients should be isolated.
So we are still far from normal in everyday life. Also because due to the still tense crown situation in the two clinics in Wolfratshausen and Bad Tölz, the scheduled operations have been postponed. Only very urgent operations would be performed, for example in patients with acute pain, says Kühn. “We must always be ready for crown patients.” After an operation, the bed occupied for this purpose is again vacated after 48 hours at the latest to create capacity for new Covid patients or emergency treatments and interventions that cannot be postponed, says Christopher Horn, press spokesman for the Asklepios Clinic in Bad. Tolz.
Visits are still prohibited in both clinics. In Bad Tölz, exceptions are only possible with special permission from the attending physician, says Horn, for example when visiting children or caring for the dying. “We have decided to take this drastic step to protect our patients and employees,” Horn said.
Many operators of the clinic in quarantine
The staff situation is also very tense at the moment. “The current wave is pushing us to the limit, because the shifts have to be constantly changed,” says the head of the district clinic Kühn. “There are many quarantined employees.” There have also been occasional staff shortages in previous waves, “but the current wave affects everyone and is therefore tougher,” continued Kühn. This requires a high degree of flexibility on the part of the workforce.
Bad Tölz Asklepios Clinic benefits from a very high vaccination rate for staff, says press spokesman Horn. However, there are also crown related failures. “In addition to sick employees, we are particularly concerned about the quarantine rules in kindergartens and schools,” says Horn. Many nurses and doctors should pick up their children on short notice and take care of them at home. “This is currently one of the most common reasons for bankruptcies.” Despite numerous absences, there is no general ban on staff leave in either clinic.
In the coming weeks, the crown protection measures will be taken nationwide, on March 20 almost all restrictions will be lifted apart from the mask requirement. This also means more opportunities for infections. So clinics have to adjust again to the increase in patient numbers? Hospital coordinator Martin Dotzer is optimistic: “Omikron is highly contagious, but it doesn’t produce many hospital patients. Now almost everyone has it, so I don’t think the healthcare system will again be heavily burdened by the withdrawal of protective measures.”
Asklepios spokesman Horn is also confident for the future. “However, extreme caution is still needed,” he says. Current hygiene and distance rules should be observed and vaccination offers accepted. “This is the only way we will be able to overcome the pandemic in the long term.” Wolfratshauser Clinic Head Kühn expects the crown situation to ease in the spring and summer. “We expect a new wave in the fall.” This is likely to pose challenges again for the Wolfratshausen and Bad Tölz clinics.