The third corona wave has been rolling over Rhineland-Palatinate since the beginning of March and is now also reaching the intensive care units of hospitals. But the nurses are already at their limit.
“The lower maintenance limit has been lifted, overcrowding,” Keienburg quotes from the emails. Or: “There is an increasing lack of qualified personnel. Attempts are made to compensate for the shortage with auxiliary staff.” Elsewhere it says: “In terms of personnel we are already at the limit, there have been a few layoffs, the mood in the team is rather bad and due to illness-related absences, the minimum occupation is only guaranteed by jumping in.”
Keienburg is herself an intensive care nurse at the University of Mainz. She confirms: “There is a certain amount of frustration and disappointment.” The nursing staff in the country are at their limit after a year of pandemic and now the third wave of the corona pandemic is knocking on the doors of the intensive care units.
Covid-19 numbers in intensive care units in Rhineland-Palatinate are increasing exponentially
According to Divi, the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, the third wave in intensive care units in Rhineland-Palatinate began on March 15th. “March 14th was the last point of the falling, second wave with 70 Covid-19 patients in the intensive care units. Since then, the numbers have increased exponentially again,” says press spokeswoman Nina Meckel.
On Friday, March 26th, according to the Divi Register, 109 Covid-19 patients are already in the intensive care units, 54 of whom have to be invasively ventilated. “That is an increase of 56 percent in ten days,” said Meckel.
Do younger Covid-19 patients die less often in intensive care units?
Reports that the Covid patients are now younger than before cannot be confirmed by Divi based on their data. However, since the infection rate among the over 80-year-olds is currently very low, the association expects “no more very old people to be seen in the intensive care units” as the vaccination campaign progresses. You are protected by the vaccinations from severe courses. Accordingly, the average age, which was 68 in the first and second waves, will definitely be younger.
This could possibly have a positive effect on the death rate. The Mainz University Medical Center says: “The more stable cardiovascular situation leads to better survivability in younger patients. If more young people are in the intensive care unit or do not even come to the intensive care unit, lower mortality can be expected.”
However, the dangerousness of the new mutants must also be taken into account, as there are indications of a higher infectivity and also more severe courses for the mutation B.1.1.7 from Great Britain. They now make up the majority of Covid 19 cases.
Increasingly difficult courses among 40 to 60 year olds in Trier
In the hospital of the Barmherzigen Brüder in Trier, the number of Covid-19 patients is currently still stable. “It is noticeable, however, that it is predominantly young people who become seriously ill,” says Tim Piepho, chief physician in the Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine.
This worries him: “Considering the relatively low incidence values in our region, it is worrying that patients with severe disease are between 40 and 60 years old.” There are concerns that the higher the incidence values, this group of patients and thus the burden on the hospitals will increase.
Corona exposure wears down caregivers
The concern about the mutation is also a burden for the nursing staff in the country. According to Christa Keienburg, in addition to the generally tense personnel situation in intensive care, there are now also bottlenecks due to longer periods of illness. In addition, dismissals and working time reductions as a result of the corona loads hit the office. Even short-term failures due to vaccination reactions would have to be compensated again and again.
Keienburg sums up: Almost all intensive care workers would still see it as their task to somehow manage the third wave of infections. “If, however, the general conditions still do not change afterwards, many colleagues are determined to turn their backs on intensive care and any other type of care,” she is convinced.
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wave reaches intensive care units RhinelandPalatinate SWR Aktuell