Central Europe sounds alarm facing a shortages of medics as virus surges

KYJOV, Czech Republic (AP) — Soldiers in Poland are giving coronavirus tests. American National Guard troops with medical training are headed to the Czech Republic to work alongside doctors there. A Czech university student is running blood samples to labs, and the mayor of the capital is taking shifts at a hospital.

With cases surging in many central European countries, firefighters, students and retired doctors are being asked to help shore up buckling health care systems.

“This is actually terrifying,” Dr. Piotr Suwalski, the head of the cardiac surgery ward at a Polish hospital said on a day when daily COVID-19 cases rose 20% nationwide. “I think if we continue to gain 20% a day, no system can withstand it.”

Even before the pandemic, many countries in the region faced a tragic shortage of medical personnel due to years of underfunding in their public health sectors and an exodus of doctors and nurses to better paying jobs in Western Europe after the nations joined the European Union in 2004. Now, with the virus ripping through their hospitals, many health workers have been sickened, compounding the shortfall.

Over 13,200 medical personnel across the Czech Republic have been infected, including 6,000 nurses and 2,600 doctors, according to the doctors’ union.

It’s not just clinicians these countries need. Both Poland and the Czech Republic are building field hospitals as beds fill up on wards, and authorities say there are only 12 ventilators left in all hospitals taking COVID-19 patients in the region around Warsaw, the Polish capital.

This may sound familiar, but not for these countries. Many in the region imposed tough restrictions in the spring — including sealing borders and closing schools, stores and restaurants — and saw very low infection rates even as the virus killed tens of thousands in Western Europe.

READ MORE: France, Germany impose new lockdowns to curb virus spread

But now many central European countries are seeing an onslaught similar to the one their western neighbors experienced — and the same dire warnings.

As he announced new restrictions last week, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis put a date on when his country’s health system would collapse, if the new regulations were not imposed to slow the virus’s spread: between Nov. 7 and 11.

With one of the highest infection rates in Europe, the Czech Republic’s hospitals are desperately looking for volunteers. The government is deploying thousands of medical students to hospitals and other students to testing sites.

In the capital of Prague, Mayor Zdenek Hrib, who has a degree in medicine, volunteered to help do initial exams of possible coronavirus patients at a university hospital. Soon, 28 medical personnel from the Nebraska and Texas national guards are expected to arrive to help treat patients at Prague’s military hospital and a new field hospital at the city’s exhibition ground.

Croatia has asked former doctors to come out of retirement to help in hospitals, while Slovenia has put retired physicians and current medical students on standby in case its

Read more

Short of medics as virus surges, central Europe sounds alarm

KYJOV, Czech Republic (AP) — Soldiers in Poland are giving coronavirus tests. American National Guard troops with medical training are headed to the Czech Republic to work alongside doctors there. A Czech university student is running blood samples to labs, and the mayor of the capital is taking shifts at a hospital.

With cases surging in many central European countries, firefighters, students and retired doctors are being asked to help shore up buckling health care systems.

“This is actually terrifying,” Dr. Piotr Suwalski, the head of the cardiac surgery ward at a Polish hospital said on a day when daily COVID-19 cases rose 20% nationwide. “I think if we continue to gain 20% a day, no system can withstand it.”


Even before the pandemic, many countries in the region faced a tragic shortage of medical personnel due to years of underfunding in their public health sectors and an exodus of doctors and nurses to better paying jobs in Western Europe after the nations joined the European Union in 2004. Now, with the virus ripping through their hospitals, many health workers have been sickened, compounding the shortfall.

Over 13,200 medical personnel across the Czech Republic have been infected, including 6,000 nurses and 2,600 doctors, according to the doctors’ union.

It’s not just clinicians these countries need. Both Poland and the Czech Republic are building field hospitals as beds fill up on wards, and authorities say there are only 12 ventilators left in all hospitals taking COVID-19 patients in the region around Warsaw, the Polish capital.

This may sound familiar, but not for these countries. Many in the region imposed tough restrictions in the spring — including sealing borders and closing schools, stores and restaurants — and saw very low infection rates even as the virus killed tens of thousands in Western Europe.

But now many central European countries are seeing an onslaught similar to the one their western neighbors experienced — and the same dire warnings.

As he announced new restrictions last week, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis put a date on when his country’s health system would collapse, if the new regulations were not imposed to slow the virus’s spread: between Nov. 7 and 11.

With one of the highest infection rates in Europe, the Czech Republic’s hospitals are desperately looking for volunteers. The government is deploying thousands of medical students to hospitals and other students to testing sites.

In the capital of Prague, Mayor Zdenek Hrib, who has a degree in medicine, volunteered to help do initial exams of possible coronavirus patients at a university hospital. Soon, 28 medical personnel from the Nebraska and Texas national guards are expected to arrive to help treat patients at Prague’s military hospital and a new field hospital at the city’s exhibition ground.

Croatia has asked former doctors to come out of retirement to help in hospitals, while Slovenia has put retired physicians and current medical students on standby in case its situation deteriorates.

Poland, meanwhile, is mobilizing soldiers to conduct COVID-19 testing,

Read more

Central Ohio nonprofit’s ‘Farmacy in the City’ program in South Linden to combine diet, medicine

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the number of patients served by the Charitable Pharmacy and which government agency gave it $1.5 million to renovate the building where it is opening a second location.



a sign on the side of the road: Site of the former Eagle Supermarket, 1464 Cleveland Ave., on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio and Community Development for All People will open a pharmacy and fresh-food market at the site of the former South Linden carryout, which the city shut down in 2016. The "Farmacy in the City" will open in Spring 2021.


© Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch
Site of the former Eagle Supermarket, 1464 Cleveland Ave., on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio and Community Development for All People will open a pharmacy and fresh-food market at the site of the former South Linden carryout, which the city shut down in 2016. The “Farmacy in the City” will open in Spring 2021.

The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio will open a second location addressing low-income Franklin County residents’ food and pharmaceutical needs with its “Farmacy in the City” program. 

Loading...

Load Error

The nonprofit’s new site, co-located with Community Development for All People, will feature a pharmacy and fresh food market under one roof. Here, vulnerable Franklin County residents can receive non-narcotic prescription medicine, pharmacy services and healthy food at no cost. 

“Our patients may not have access to healthy food and other resources that you need to stay in those healthy habits to reduce your disease burden,” Charitable Pharmacy executive director Jennifer Seifert said. “We’re really excited now that when someone says, ‘I don’t know what to eat,’ we can bring some resources around them.”

Since 2010, CPCO has contributed $50 million in pharmacy services and prescription medicine, today serving over 7,000 Franklin County residents living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.

More: Charitable Pharmacy sees more patients, more costs due to COVID-19

CPCO’s model is different from that of free clinics. Pharmacists spend time with patients to understand their medical history, explain the impact of their prescribed medicine and create an action plan for the future, development director Melanie Boyd said.

Despite this decade of positive impact, it’s clear that sometimes medicine isn’t the most pressing need when patients walk through the pharmacy’s doors. Basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing often take precedence. 

After receiving a grant of nearly $100,000 from the Franklin County Board of Commissioners in 2019, CPCO began exploring communities where its support could have the most impact and identified South Linden as a place where it could help the neighborhood achieve better health outcomes.



A rendering of the completed renovations for the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio's fresh market. Slated to open spring 2021, the "farmacy" will be located at 1464 Cleveland Ave. in South Linden in a former Eagle Market.


© Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio
A rendering of the completed renovations for the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio’s fresh market. Slated to open spring 2021, the “farmacy” will be located at 1464 Cleveland Ave. in South Linden in a former Eagle Market.

The unfortunate truth is that one’s ZIP code often determines the quality of their health care.

“You go to the suburbs and look at how many pharmacies you have per capita — it’s a real different story in some other sections of the city,” Boyd said. “We know that coming in (to South Linden) as a charitable pharmacy to work with the existing pharmacies, we’re going to be able to meet

Read more

Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital offers MitraClip, an alternative treatment to open heart valve surgery

In patients with mitral regurgitation, the mitral valve does not close completely, allowing blood to flow backward or “leak” into the upper chamber of the heart, causing shortness of breath, fatigue and dizziness. The debilitating condition can lead to congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, pulmonary hypertension, stroke or death.

Historically, patients with severe mitral regurgitation required open heart surgery. The Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital is now offering Mitraclip, a minimally invasive procedure for patients who may not be able to tolerate surgery.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

“As a national leader in transcatheter mitral valve treatment options, Northwestern Memorial Hospital has one of the highest-volume MitraClip programs in Illinois,” said Patrick McCarthy, MD, executive director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and chief of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “By training our team at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, we are bringing advanced care to patients closer to where they live.”

During MitraClip implantation, a catheter is inserted through the femoral vein in the leg, up into the heart until it reaches the diseased mitral valve. The MitraClip implant is compressed and advanced along the guide wire so that it can be properly positioned to join or “clip” together a portion of the mitral valve, reducing or eliminating the backward flow of blood.

“Patients experience a noticeable difference in their symptoms and improved quality of life very quickly,” said Imran N. Ahmad, MD, interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. “With the less invasive procedure, patients spend only 24 to 48 hours in the hospital, compared to about five days for an open heart procedure.”

William Lenschow, of Sycamore, was the first patient to undergo the MitraClip procedure at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. The 84 year-old farmer was so weak from his leaking mitral valve that he found it difficult to walk. Within two weeks of the procedure, Lenschow was back at work on his farm harvesting the soybean crop.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

“Before the procedure I was so tired I slept more than I ever have in my life. I could only sit around and do nothing. I’ve never lived my life that way,” said Lenschow. “After the procedure, I felt better almost immediately. It feels good to be active and working again.”

Northwestern Memorial Hospital participated in the COAPT clinical trial, which found treatment with MitraClip leads to a reduction in hospitalizations for heart failure and death compared to medical therapy alone. As a result of these findings, the FDA approved MitraClip for patients with functional or secondary mitral regurgitation caused by diminished heart function

“Mitral valve disease is one of the most common valve disorder in the United States and one of the more difficult to treat,” said Jonathan Tomasko, MD, cardiac surgeon at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “MitraClip arms us with another tool in

Read more
  • Partner links