Health care under strain

Health care workers who participate on flu forums and blogs have often argued that the health care system would collapse in the face of a severe pandemic. Although we still do not know what the case fatality rate of the new H1N1 virus is, we do know it is causing significant strain on the health care system. Some examples:

In New Zealand (stuff.co.nz)

A woman infected with swine flu who had an emergency caesarean section was left alone for an hour unable to reach her crying newborn son and unaided by nurses who appeared “scared” of catching the virus.

The Canterbury District Health Board’s swine-flu management was questioned yesterday by Bishopdale woman Perawai Hurunui, a new mother who gave birth two weeks ago at Christchurch Women’s Hospital while infected with the virus. Hurunui said she left hospital just two days after her caesarean section, disgusted at the treatment she got.

Nurses appeared scared of her condition and had taken up to an hour to answer her calls for help, she said.

In Australia (Logan West Leader)

A CRESTMEAD mum whose baby contracted swine flu has slammed Logan Hospital for putting her daughter’s life and others around her in danger after she was allegedly misdiagnosed.

Katrina Platell’s daughter Summer, aged 16 months, first developed flu-like symptoms on Monday night, June 29.

Overnight her condition had significantly deteriorated, prompting Ms Platell to take her daughter to the family doctor, where she was found to have a temperature of 39.6C.

Her doctor urged the pair to go to Logan Hospital’s emergency department.

Ms Platell arrived at the hospital at 3.30pm and said she waited for an hour.

She said Summer was only seen by staff after three inquiries and a threat to leave and go to the Mater Children’s Hospital.

“I was crying so much, bawling my eyes out I was so scared,’’ she said.

“Summer stopped moving at one stage and she was burning against my chest.’’

Ms Platell said a nurse placed Summer in an isolation ward after she examined her and tests were run from 4.30pm to 9.30pm.

At that stage she was told by a doctor the tests had “come back clear’’ and Summer did not have swine flu.

A day later Summer’s temperature was still in the high 30s and at one stage she was coughing up blood.

Two days later, on Thursday about 1.30pm, Ms Platell received a call from Queensland Health informing her Summer had swine flu.

“I nearly dropped the phone,’’ she said.

“Summer had been in contact with a cancer patient in remission, her 3-year-old cousin and elderly people all the people they say you should avoid,’’ she said.

“I was angry my loved ones had been put in danger.’’

In Paraguay (Xinhua)

The Paraguayan authorities said that 50 percent of 111 beds in intensive care from the public health system are full with patients of severe respiratory diseases.

Doctor from the Sanitary Vigilance Direction from the Health Ministry, Ivan Allende, said that all the patients are on severe conditions.

Allende said that the A/H1N1 virus is easy to spread and it has potential to infect all the Paraguayans.

Allende also said that 30 percent of the doctors and nurses working in the emergency have symptoms and there are possibilities that half of them are infected.

There are also reports in Spanish language news that emergency rooms in some Argentinian hospitals are on the verge of collapse.

Demands on hospitals will increase in the Southern Hemisphere until the peak of the flu season, late July and August. We will soon see whether they can withstand this pressure.

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