An emergency treatment centre in Lombardy, Italy, where hospitals are buckling under a wave of hospitalisations and a shortage of ventilators. © Belga

One of Belgium’s best-equipped hospitals to treat patients infected with the new coronavirus (Covid-19) has launched a call for donations to buy life-saving ventilators.

“Our hospital is making preparations to go through a long crisis,” Saint-Pierre Hospital in Brussels wrote in a statement. “We need to obtain additional medical equipment, including around a dozen ventilators.”

“We really need one of these devices next to each intensive care unit bed. It is vital for patients with coronavirus,” spokesperson Nathalie Schaar told The Brussels Times.

“Unfortunately, we are bracing for a peak in [hospitalisations]. Right now, we have 35 beds in intensive care unit all equipped with a ventilator, and I suspect we are not the only ones who need more,” she said.

Along with Antwerp’s University Hospital, Saint-Pierre is one of the best-equipped hospitals to manage highly infectious diseases.

Before the government mobilised all general hospitals against the pandemic, both hospitals were initially designated as the official centres to treat Covid-19 patients.

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“We estimated the purchase would cost around €500,000 to €600,000,” Schaar said, adding that “if 30 or 50 more hospitals in Belgium had the same needs,” the bill could quickly swell for authorities.

The hospital’s call for donations coincides with a rise in the number of hospitalisations in Belgian hospitals due to the coronavirus pandemic, and comes ahead of a weekend doctors in Brussels say will be “catastrophic.”

It also comes against the backdrop of global shortages of the device, essential for treating the most serious Covid-19 cases.

As Italy buckles under waves of hospitalisations, the country has called in the military to ramp up ventilator production even as it joined Germany in a mass ventilator purchase.

The hospital decided to launch the appeal after numerous citizens approached staff asking for ways to help, Schaar said, adding that the donations would lead to something “concrete and life-saving.”

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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