Colombia’s medical community is increasingly desperate about authorities’ denial that the COVID-19 pandemic has collapsed healthcare in the country’s largest cities.
While doctors and nurses in Bogota, Medellin and Cali are desperately trying to provide healthcare despite the lack of hospital capacity, the national government and local authorities refuse to acknowledge the crisis.
Hi, I just wanted to say the motivation of a lot of us doctors is on the floor, so don’t treat us badly and just send encouragement and good energy.
Medical community not even responding to Duque anymore
President Ivan Duque ignored the healthcare crisis entirely, but highlighted the number of people who have recovered in his daily COVID show on Wednesday.
Medical organizations had already given up on Duque and his health minister Fernando Ruiz in April over their consistent denial of reality and false promises.
The collapse of the healthcare systems in Colombia’s three largest cities, however, has rapidly increased tensions between the medical community and the mayors who refuse to admit their healthcare systems are no longer able to deal with the growing number of patients.
Bogota mayor infuriates doctors
In the capital where healthcare was already saturated on Thursday, Mayor Claudia Lopez triggered the fury of the medical community after accusing those reporting her healthcare system has collapsed have political motivations.
Today I received three ventilated patients on my shift in the emergency room, one of them with more than one day on ventilation in emergency and none pending transfer because there are no beds available and referral requests receive no response. If that isn’t a collapse, what is?
Dr, Manuel Puerta
“I am a doctor, not a politician, but the local and national policies affect my work and the security of my patients. What they are reporting does not concur with what I am living,” internist Manuel Puerta responded.
“Should we shut up and dedicate ourselves to the cover-up in order to not be so inconvenient?” the vice-president of the Colombian Medical Federation (FMC), Carolina Corcho, responded to Lopez.
Health workers abandoned by infighting politicians
Doctors and nurses in Medellin were left to fend for themselves as a surprise decision by acting Antioquia Governor Luis Fernando Suarez not to support a partial lockdown triggered major political tensions with the mayor of Medellin, Daniel Quintero, and other mayors.
Opposition council member Alfredo Ramos said Thursday that the municipal hospital monitor showed that the number of available intensive care units (ICU’s) had dropped while the 89.5% occupancy rate reported on Wednesday evening remained the same.
According to local journalist Diana Carolina Mejia, Colombia’s second largest city has 75 ICU’s left, which means patients would have to be transferred to different hospitals to receive intensive care, according to the FMC.
The only authority admitting healthcare had collapsed was Valle del Cauca Governor Clara Luz Roldan, after revealing that the provincial capital Cali no longer had the capacity to treat patients or do any more testing.
“Now is the time to take good care of ourselves at home, and hope that the pandemic will allow us to keep our loved ones,” Roldan said.