Dozens die daily in Managua, Chinandega, Masaya and Rivas; beds, ventilators and primary supplies are scarce and more staff is infected
HAVANA TIMES – In ten of the nineteen hospitals assigned by the Ministry of Health (Minsa) to face the Covid-19 pandemic, there are approximately 600 people hospitalized with symptoms of this disease.
According to reports from relatives and medical sources, some have been admitted into intensive care units and connected to ventilators, despite the fact that the Daniel Ortega regime insists on minimizing the pandemic.
On average, in these national reference hospitals for the care of patients with Covid-19, between 10 and 15 people die every day, some days even more than thirty, with health complications associated with the disease.
The most terrifying scenario is experienced in the “Aleman Nicaraguense” (German Nicaraguan) Hospital, in Managua, the first hospital where an isolation area for positive or suspected patients was enabled since the end of February, although the government confirmed the first case until March 18.
According to the Nicaraguan Medical Unit (UMN), the “Aleman” Hospital has 276 cases of about 600 patients with Covid-19 symptoms hospitalized throughout the country, although the Ministry of Health classifies the majority as “undetermined” or “atypical pneumonia” cases.
In the area of Gate No. 2, which was enabled in this hospital for the attention of the pandemic, the few beds that may be available are filled daily, while a row of corpses wrapped in sheets awaits in the corridors due to the fact that the spaces in the morgue are also full. Medical sources consulted by Confidencial estimate a daily average of 10 to 15 deaths only in that hospital.
Minsa “is reinforcing the ‘Aleman’ Hospital with resident doctors from the Lenin Fonseca and Manolo Morales Hospitals, and a plan exists to reinforce the hospitals with general doctors who will come from health centers,” said a medical source who requested not to be cited in this article.
Hospital MDs question official data
Infectious Disease Doctor Jorge Ivan Miranda, who works at the “Monte Espana” Hospital, criticizes the number of 17 deaths by Covid-19, which MINSA admits, “it has nothing to do with reality,” because hospitals are registering daily deceased people and that is a reality “at plain sight.”
The infectious disease doctor, Carlos Quant, who provides services at the “Bautista” Hospital and the Roberto Calderon Hospital, also doubts the veracity of official data, and argues that “it would suffice to add the deaths of the “Aleman Nicaraguense” and Manolo Morales hospitals to reach a similar figure,” in a single day, although the MINSA recorded it over two months.
Doctors base their criticism on their daily experience in hospitals.
In Managua, Chinandega, Leon, Masaya and Matagalpa, medical sources report that they are full, with few or no beds available, primary supplies are scarce, and the number of doctors and health personnel with symptoms of infections is growing. In some of these facilities, the bodies of deceased patients are also beginning to accumulate, although the Government only admits 279 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, well below independent verified reports.
The pressure due to the scarcity of conditions and limited capacity in hospitals centers alarms doctors and health personnel, because the curve of Covid-19 infections in Nicaragua has only just begun to rise, and independent epidemiologists estimate that it will go up for an extended period of time, due to the lack of preventive measures, with a Government that continues to promote a variety of crowded activities.
Manolo Morales Hospital staff deaths
Among the suspected cases of Covid-19 that are not reported by the MINSA, there would be around 180 infected health workers, a situation that has generated even more pressure on the health authorities.
Placed world-wide on the “front line” against the pandemic, Nicaraguan health personnel are further exposed by the lack of protective equipment and pressures from the regime that has refused to listen to the warnings and demands of the health professionals.
In the Manolo Morales Hospital, the area designated for suspected Covid-19 patients has 54 people admitted, 17 of them connected to mechanical ventilators. The daily average of deaths is also around ten.
Among those who died at the Manolo Morales Hospital, an anesthesia technician and a hospital messenger who were reported to have caught the virus while they were working. In addition, three doctors from that hospital are admitted to the Covid-19 area.
Doctor Quant details that 20% of the doctors at the Manolo Morales Hospital would have been infected with the virus, that is, 31 of 162 health workers. He also assured that in private hospitals there is “a high proportion of workers” who would have become ill from this same cause.
Doctor Miranda said the reason why the MINSA is not reporting the number of health workers infected by Covid-19, is that they are “sensitive cases” that put hospitals in a “critical” situation. The concealment of these cases “speaks very badly of them” because if the health personnel are infected, they have to remove them and “since there is no one to replace them with,” the health system could become congested.
A doctor died in Rivas
Dr. Miranda confirmed the death in Rivas of the first doctor due to the pandemic this Thursday. He is Luis Angel Ocampo Donair, 32 years old. The doctor, who showed symptoms similar to Covid 19, worked for a non-governmental organization, and was being treated in a private clinic by his father and forensic doctor Luis Ocampo Jara.
The doctor suffered from asthma and had symptoms of Covid-19 for a week but refused to go to a hospital. His health condition worsened after several days, so his relatives decided to move him to the Rivas Hospital, but he died when he was arriving to the emergency area, according to what his father told the newspaper La Prensa.
In Rivas fifteen Covid-19 patients are reported in the hospital, five have died, and at least three more in the municipalities of San Juan del Sur, San Jorge and Potosi.
The official statistics do not reflect any data on the spread of Covid-19 infection among health personnel, but an investigation carried out by Confidencial revealed that at least six workers of the MINSA laboratories would have been infected with the virus, in addition to other workers from the “Conchita Palacios” National Complex, where these offices are located.
A source with access to information from the hospitals assured that when the capacity of the “Aleman Nicaraguense” Hospital is no longer enough, the use of the Manolo Morales Hospital will be commanded “as a second reference hospital for patients with Covid-19.” Then the Lenin Fonseca Hospital would follow, where a room for patients with Covid-19 has already been set up, but so far, no further reports have been obtained.
A “parallel reality”
Despite the deficiencies in the health system, on April 15, President Daniel Ortega praised the training of Nicaraguan doctors and stated that “practically 90% of the hospitals” of the State “are equipped with all basic resources” to attend to the health emergency caused by the new coronavirus.
“We have the capacity to serve the population, while the rate at which the epidemic has been manifesting has been the one what we have managed to administer. In other words, we did not go out in a stampede,” said Ortega. A month later the epidemic is not only out of control, resources are insufficient and even the most trained doctors find themselves overwhelmed by the large number of cases.
In its latest weekly report, after seven days of silence, the MINSA raised the number of cases from 25 to 279, with a record of 254 new cases in a single week. However, the report is at least eight times less than the number of cases registered by the independent count of the Covid-19 Citizen Observatory, which specified 2,323 cases, with 404 deaths.
Resources are limited
In private hospitals, the number of patients suspected of Covid-19 is less, but the rooms set up for this purpose are crowded, access is restricted, and doctors do not have enough supplies to care for patients.
In the Davila Bolanos Military Hospital, 60 admitted patients are reported, seven of them connected to ventilators. It is stated that six public officials with Covid-19 symptoms, including a deputy from the Sandinista Front are also interned in this hospital center.
At the “Monte Espana” Hospital, which cares for patients referred by Social Security, several doctors have quit for fear of infection with the virus, since they do not have enough protective equipment. The hospital management supposedly distributed cloth masks to all the staff and in the Covid-19 area special suits are scarce and must be constantly sterilized.
A source from the Vivian Pellas Hospital also confirmed that this hospital has 18 suspected Covid-19 patients and explained that currently “there are no beds available” in the two wards that were enabled to attend the pandemic. Likewise, in the Bautista Hospital, the room for suspected Covid-19 patients is filled with 20 patients.
Doctor recovers in Chinandega
At the “Espana” (Spain) Hospital, in Chinandega, 14 patients remain interned in the Covid-19 area, two of them connected to mechanical ventilators. Meanwhile, the radiologist doctor who was infected with coronavirus, and remained for more than two weeks is in a delicate condition, has recovered and a few days ago was disconnected from the artificial ventilator of which he depended.
Medical sources of the Hospital Espana, a hotspot of the pandemic contagion in Chinandega, have confirmed that in recent days they have not received seriously ill patients and that a person suspected of Covid-19 died in a private clinic in that department.
In the Heodra Hospital in Leon, there are 75 patients with Covid-19 hospitalized, located on the first floor of the hospital, where the Emergency Room used to be. Meanwhile, the patients who arrive urgently with other ailments are treated at the second floor, where the outpatient clinic used to be.
In Matagalpa, medical source from the Cesar Amador Molina Hospital, confirmed that at least 25 suspected Covid-19 patients have been admitted, and the hospital’s Emergency area was enabled to attend to patients with Covid-19 and the Outpatient clinic became the Emergency ward.