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Intensive Care Specialist: Less than Two Thousand ICU Nurses in Healthcare

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.09.22.

Even though Hungary has sixteen thousand ventilators and ten thousand free beds, it is all for nothing if there are not enough special care nurses to treat the patients, stated anesthesiologist and intensive care specialist Nóra Mátéh, on social media.

While politicians viciously battle one other in the name of the fight against the virus, no one is talking about the most important thing: the lack of specialist nurses in hospitals, Mátéh writes.

“The lack of doctors is a well-known fact. However, the true bottleneck and weakest link of the whole COVID care is the number of critical care nurses. We are talking about a very special area of ​​nursing, something they learned for years and, after their studies, practiced for a long time. ”

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“Although we have sixteen thousand ventilators and ten thousand empty hospital beds, we have less than two thousand specially trained nurses,” the doctor points out.

Mátéh also emphasizes that these professionals are not only responsible for the care of Covid patients, but they must do this in addition to their regular responsibilities.

The most burning issue is that it is impossible to increase the number of professional staff in a short time- it takes years, Mátéh points out.

Commercial broadcaster ATV asked the Hungarian Medical Chamber on how many of their active members have anesthesiology and intensive care qualifications, which is  2,022 according to their records.

The Facebook post is a clear response to the ongoing debate regarding the readiness of the healthcare system that has flared up in recent days.

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It started after news began circulating about Korányi and Szent László Hospitals – which were assigned to be the primary institutions for COVID infected patients with moderate and severe symptoms – no longer having more capacity to put patients on ventilators. Later the Ministry of Human Resources disputed the claims, rendering them “fake news.” Just like in Hungary’s healthcare system in general, both personal and material resources are available to the patients, the ministry told MTI.

Prime minister Viktor Orbán even visited Korányi hospital on Friday to check on the situation there. In a video uploaded to his Facebook page while talking to the doctor on duty, he was told that there were no problems with the number of machines, but said that technical staff was needed to operate them.

Later, Ildikó Madurka, one of the chief physicians of the institution, acknowledged that the ICU capacities were filling up but emphasized that there is patient care instruction which contains where to send additional patients in case these hospitals start to reach their full capacities.

She emphasized that there is no medical professional in Hungary with an intensive therapy certification who wouldn’t know how to operate a ventilator, after a short learning period of just a few days.

Featured photo by Károly Árvai/kormany.hu/MTI