The worst situation is in Rome and its region, where there are more than 1,100 patients waiting to be hospitalized, according to the Italian Society of Emergency Medicine and Emergency Therapy.
Only a few days ago ambulances were queuing in front of Rome’s hospitals. In other regions, such as Lombardy, patients are crowded into waiting rooms until a bed becomes available.
In cities like Turin, overcrowding in hospitals has even led to a shortage of stretchers for patients.
The emergency rooms of Italian hospitals are in chaos and on the verge of collapse.
The worst situation is in Rome and its region, where there are over 1,100 patients waiting to be hospitalized, according to the Italian Society of Emergency Medicine and Emergency Therapy (Simeu).
“We are trying to guarantee the service, but we find ourselves in an extremely difficult situation – explained the president of Simeu, Fabio de Laco -.
According to Simeu, patients waiting in Piedmont have reached around 500, while in Lombardy and its capital, Milan, normal hospital admissions have been suspended to “free up” some beds for emergencies.
What’s behind the hospital collapse?
The increase in hospital admissions, which has put the Italian healthcare system under pressure, is due to the increase in “respiratory diseases, especially among the elderly”.
“Covid has decreased slightly in the last week, influenza is spreading, but other viruses have also caused ‘overcrowding’ of hospitals and very strong pressure on emergency services,” De Laco explained on Tuesday, according to media reports locals.
In the week before Christmas, from 18 to 24 December, in fact, “the influenza epidemic curve showed an incidence value never reached in previous seasons”, according to the latest epidemiological bulletin of the Higher Institute of Health.
And the situation is far from being stabilized, according to the Italian agency itself.
«Several regions have activated plans to combat overcrowding in hospitals and healthcare companies in order to find additional beds, but since hospital beds are chronically scarce, in practice there is nothing left to do but remove beds from other specialties, such as surgical. Of course this doesn’t solve the problem,” De Laco said.
As the situation worsens, doctors are exhausted and numerous alarming articles appear in the Italian press: “Hospitals on the brink” headlines La Repubblica.
No rest for doctors
The president of Simeu underlined that many Italian public health doctors were unable to rest over the Christmas and New Year period.
Holidays are a “luxury”, he said, citing the Piedmontese capital as an example: “In Turin, for example, we did not count holidays during the Christmas period” and “the vast majority of doctors worked continuously throughout the period” .
Experts have urged Italians to get vaccinated, as the peak of the flu – expected next week, when schools reopen after the holidays – has not yet been reached.
The regional councilors of the centre-left Democratic Party, Massimiliano Valeriani and Emanuela Droghei, visited two hospitals in the capital on Tuesday, the Umberto I and Sant’Andrea polyclinics, where they encountered a “very complex” situation due to the “high number of patients” patients.”
Both complained of “blocked ambulances, postponed surgeries, clogged emergency rooms and beds blocked by covid patients, all due to a vaccination campaign that started late”.