Hospitals say they could admit more patients, but Health Ministry is misleading

Health Ministry claims COVID wards countrywide overcrowded but some hospital sources say reality differs from picture presented to public

Mordechai Sones ,

Empty hospital beds, Hadassa Ein Karem
Empty hospital beds, Hadassa Ein Karem
Flash 90

The Health Ministry has ordered hospitals to discontinue all elective (non-urgent) treatments and surgeries, claiming the system is flooded with coronavirus patients. But according to a Channel 12 News report tonight, hospitals "across the country" report the Ministry is publishing "misleading data". Sheba Hospital reports occupancy in the coronavirus wards is only 52%, while the Ministry claims the ward to be over loaded to 120% occupancy.

Some hospitals around the country announced they will reduce or cancel some non-urgent treatments and surgeries, as happened in the "first wave". At the same time, the Health Ministry today published COVID-19 ward occupancy data, claiming 130% occupancy at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, as well as at Hadassah Ein Kerem, and with 125% occupancy reported in Laniado. At Assuta Hospital in Ashdod, the Health Ministry reported 103% occupancy in the coronavirus wards.

But some of the hospitals say these Health Ministry reports are inconsonant with reality and mislead the public. For example, Sheba Hospital's official website shows the occupancy rate at only 52%, far from the 120% claimed by the Health Ministry. A source at the hospital told Channel 12 News there are "many beds available and the hospital can accommodate many more coronavirus patients".

Hadassah Ein Kerem also disaffirms these data, reporting that they can take in more patients, even difficult and complex ones, if only they would be provided the budget. In some of the hospitals, certainly the largest - Soroka Wolfson, etc. - the occupancy rate in the coronavirus wards is now only around 50%. That is, they are capable of accepting patients from the country's busiest hospitals, a move that is not yet happening.

In an interview with Keren Marciano this evening, Health Ministry Director Hezi Levy commented on the occupancy situation in the hospitals: "Today I ordered opening another ward in each hospital. The question is the level of treatment and what will be the cost to other patients who need treatment. Without a doubt, as the number of patients exceeds 800 patients and the attention of the staff will have to be directed to all the patients, we will have a hard time giving optimal treatment."

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Benny Gantz today held a coronavirus situation assessment and said the IDF should immediately prepare to establish a field hospital that would contain about 200 beds.

Dr. Uri Gavish told Arutz Sheva: "Hospitals are very very far from collapsing. Some have too many patients in their COVID-19 wards so they send them to other hospitals. This was the plan to start with. The field hospitals will remain mostly empty, but they are being built as part of the panic fed to Gantz and other ministers."

The Coronavirus Cabinet convened on Monday to deliberate on a proposal to tighten the current nationwide lockdown, including imposing massive restrictions on business activity.

According to Health Ministry officials, the new restrictions under consideration would strictly limit the ability of businesses to operate during the lockdown in both the private and public sectors, drastically reducing the number of employees able to leave home and travel to work during the lockdown.

Some government ministers warned that the public has "lost faith" in the government and the lockdown.

Update: Health Communication Lecturer at IDC Herzliya International School Dr. Yaffa Shir Raz reports: "After the lie was exposed, the Health Ministry deleted hospital coronavirus ward occupancy data, due to the discrepancies between Ministry data and reality on the ground."

Empty hallways and hospital beds
Flash 90


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