Cuba: A Lack of Beds Strains Hospitals in Sancti Spiritus

There has been a rush to build wooden beds to place in state centers set up as confinement areas. (Photo: Edelio Torres / Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 September 2021 — The local press continues to show the darker side of Covid-19 in Cuba and moves away from the triumphalism maintained by the national media over the course of the pandemic on the island. A report published this Saturday in the Sancti Spíritus Escambray newspaper describes the problems of obtaining a hospital bed in the territory.

The article focuses on the problems involved in being admitted and the time that patients must wait to access a hospital room. The article starts with the story of Tomás Simón Serrano, who spent 37 hours sitting on one of the benches of the Acute Respiratory Infections Guard Corps of the Camilo Cienfuegos Provincial General Hospital.

“When they arrived at the hospital they found that there was no bed and they had to wait. They told him that he had to wait for a discharge, and if a PCR would be negative to see if they took a bed. Conclusion: They arrived at Monday at nine in the morning and were assigned bed on Tuesday at ten at night,” the article details.

But Serrano’s story is one of many. In the consultation of the Provincial Pediatric Hospital also accumulated are “mothers with children in their arms for hours and hours” waiting for a means of transport “to take them to an isolation center, children with IVs on top of their parents while they wait to be admitted,” explains the article.

Although the official figures, which the Ministry of Public Health disseminates every day, show that the cases infected in Sancti Spíritus did not exceed a thousand this Saturday, reality has forced an increase in the capacities of “the assistance institutions, the creation of hospital rooms in educational centers, the provision of beds even in nursery schools and the reorganization of many health services.”

“If the numbers were considered, it could be believed that the more than 3,000 beds in the province for the hospitalization of suspected and confirmed cases with Covid-19 are enough. But beyond the paper, what seems promising data is usually subtracted before the multiplication of sick every day,” warns the report.

For the isolation of positive patients alone, according to data from the Provincial Health Directorate, 39 centers with 2,490 bed and for suspected cases 27 centers with 1,116 beds had to be enabled in the territory of Sancti Spiritus. But “even so it does not mean that the equation is cleared from the income-income equation and that there is a bed for anyone who requires it.”

This Saturday, 905 new positive cases were detected in the province, but the problems in accessing a PCR test mean that many of those infected do not even enter the official statistics.

Last Monday, the 147 beds destined for Covid-19 patients at the Camilo Cienfuegos hospital were full as were the 40 for intensive care. On average, around 75 people are admitted daily to that hospital, just for Covid-19. In Pediatrics the numbers are around 60 and their beds were also full last week.

Escambray warns that hospitals “collapse,” a word that the Minsap (Ministry of Public Health) authorities avoid using, in part because “the numbers of infected per day and those recovering from Covid-19 whose sequels continue to require hospital care such as patients who, given their clinical evolution, have to remain in beds for several days.”

The Sancti Spíritus Agroforestry Company has had to throw itself into the race to build wooden beds to place in schools and other state centers enabled as confinement areas, but in addition to the frame, mattresses and bedding are needed for them, products are widely deficient in the island.

Escambray’s report has prompted criticism from readers who have not lost the opportunity to recall that what is described is quite similar to what was described “in the news, talking about the calamities of other countries and our pride that this does not happen in Cuba because we are the good of the world, and nothing is further from reality, it was only a matter of time,” said an Internet user.

Scenes of patients without hospital beds, lacking medical oxygen or with serious symptoms at home are increasingly being seen on social networks and local Cuban media, challenging the version ’with more makeup’ promoted by senior officials and the national circulation media.

The provincial press has been making a move for weeks. A few days ago, the Ciego de Ávila newspaper confirmed the lack of oxygen and the precarious situation in the area and shortly after, it was on 5th of September, the official Cienfuegos newspaper, which spoke of an “unprecedented scenario” in an article titled Covid-19 in Cienfuegos: the truth on the table.

The newspaper denounced then that diagnostic tests were lacking, PCRs were accumulating without results, there was poor management of cases in primary care according to their risk leading them to end up in serious condition in hospitals due to the lack of screening. Added to this was the lack of medicinal oxygen — despite the incorporation of the Armed Forces and Russia into production — and the shortage of medicines or healthcare supplies and equipment.

To all this we must add, the newspaper pointed out, that what the Government promised does not always arrive. “I must tell you that there are problems with food, that in not a few cases breakfast has been eaten out of time and lunch goes out in the afternoon. It also happens that after discharge people have to wait up to three and four hours for transportation (. ..),” denounced a citizen.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.