Health Minister Jaime Mañalich has outlined three strategic approaches to strengthening the steps being taken to prevent and combat coronavirus in Chile: increased treatment capacity, use of health residences for individuals who cannot quarantine in their homes and increased supervision of the measures designed to contain the pandemic.
“It is clear that we are facing a very different epidemiological situation in the Metropolitan Region compared to the rest of the country (…). We are focusing on a strategy that has three main elements. First, we will increase treatment capacity, especially intensive care, for those who need it, that is, those who have more serious forms of the illness, require hospitalization and could ultimately need to be connected to a mechanical ventilator. Second, we will protect the people who live in more vulnerable sectors so that they can quarantine properly. Third, we will have stricter supervision,” the Minister explained.
In regard to the first approach, Healthcare Networks Undersecretary Arturo Zúñiga announced that more beds have been converted for critical care in three Metropolitan Region hospitals. These are the Public Assistance Hospital (formerly the Posta Central), the Las Condes Municipal Clinic and the Metropolitan Hospital. The Undersecretary explained that this will add 400 new intensive care beds to the integrated healthcare network.
“We have decided to put the Posta Central at the heart of this battle, converting all 250 available beds into an Intensive Care Unit,» Undersecretary Zúñiga explained.
The new Metropolitan Hospital will increase the number of intensive care beds to 189, while the Las Condes Municipal Clinic will increase to 80 ICU beds. “We reached an agreement with the Mayor of Las Condes to convert the entire facility, adding 80 extra beds to our national stock of intensive care units,” the Undersecretary said.
In regard to controlling the pandemic, the Minister stated that the role of the health residences has been strengthened in order to help those who are living in more vulnerable conditions to properly isolate.
“A much stricter strategy is needed for people who are ill or who have had close contact with someone, who live in places where it is not possible to comply with the measures due to housing quality, so the second line of action involves strengthening the Health Residences. This will allow people who need to spend time in quarantine to do so in a location with adequate heat, services, medical visits, meals and the comfort that these quarantine measures require. People are usually isolated for 14 days from the onset of symptoms,” the Undersecretary explained.
Undersecretary Paula Daza added, “the regional health ministry services are working very hard with the mayors to provide help and support to people who cannot isolate at home because of their living conditions and to take them to health residences where they can comply with quarantine.”
In regard to supervision, the Health Minister stated, “we have to make a greater effort to avoid outbreaks in locations that have already gone through the first wave of coronavirus infections. This means the health authorities need to have a role in supervising quarantine, and in linking up and working with Primary Healthcare Services, using the legal instruments at our disposal. In places where the first wave has passed, we must continue monitoring so that we can contain possible new outbreaks of the illness. To this end, we are hiring more people and incorporating municipal staff to monitor and follow up on these cases.”