Asymptomatic people will have to work in Salzburg hospitals in the future
Exactly 888 days after the first confirmed corona cases in Austria, the quarantine obligation ended on Monday. The situation is already tense, especially in the hospitals, and some elective surgeries are being postponed again. In the Salzburg hospitals, employees who are infected without symptoms and have no contact with patients must come to work regularly with an FFP2 mask from Monday. The other federal states do not want to have contagious staff in the hospital.
In some cases, people are still waiting for the corresponding ordinance – it is not yet officially available five days before it comes into force. The Tirol Kliniken also made positive comments. They welcome the new regulation that saves people who test positive from quarantine, they give back “flexibility”, according to Tyrol. Salzburg goes one step further. From August 1st, the Salzburg State Clinics (SALK) will differentiate between employees with and without contact with patients. Employees in the first group without symptoms must appear on duty regularly – with an FFP2 mask. “Employees who have normal patient contact, on the other hand, are deployed in such a way that there is no contact for the duration of the traffic restriction,” said SALK spokesman Wolfgang Fürweger to the APA. “Doctors then write doctor’s letters, for example, or devote themselves to their research work.” If no work remote from the patient is possible or if staff cannot wear an FFP2 mask continuously for medical reasons (e.g. pregnancy), they are released from duty. How the country’s nursing homes will deal with the new situation was not yet clear on Wednesday. The rules of the federal government initially apply, coordination with the specialist department would still be ongoing, according to the office of Social Provincial Councilor Heinrich Schellhorn.
In the Salzburg state clinics, the number of Covid-related absences is currently limited. As of Wednesday, 18 doctors and 51 nurses were considered infected. For comparison: 578 nurses are currently on vacation. “We are currently running our operating theaters at 75 percent capacity, which is not unusual for the summer. Many people don’t do elective surgery in the hot season,” said SALK spokesman Wolfgang Fürweger to the APA. There are usually only acute failures of operations – for example, if a surgeon is unable to work at short notice due to an infection.
In the tirol clinics, a mix of different causes is currently causing operations that are not urgently needed to be postponed, said clinic spokesman Johannes Schwamberger of the APA. This is due to corona-positive patients, corona-related employee absences, holidays and the general situation on the job market. It cannot therefore be said that only Corona is responsible for this. “The combination of everything is challenging,” he described the situation. In principle, however, the tirol kliniken welcome the new regulation: “It gives us back flexibility,” he said. Schwamberger left open whether infected employees would actually be sent to work later. You will now consult with departments such as hospital hygiene and infectiology in which departments this is possible and in which not. For example, he could not imagine that infected people would be allowed to work with immunosuppressed patients.
How the new regulation will be implemented in the Vienna Health Association can only be clarified when it is available. From the current perspective, it is difficult to imagine in the clinical area letting infectious nurses or doctors to the already vulnerable patients, it said at the request of the APA. The current summer wave is noticeable among the employees. On Tuesday, around 780 of the approximately 30,000 employees were off duty due to a positive corona test. The personnel situation is tense in connection with the holiday period, but the medical care of the patients is guaranteed. Urgent and vital operations always take place in the clinics of the Vienna Health Association. But does the high Covid-19 occupancy in the normal wards and the dynamic personnel situation have an impact on operating theatres. In the Donaustadt clinic, for example, planned interventions are being postponed.
In Lower Austria, according to the State Health Agency (LGA), the number of people prevented from working in the hospitals is “at a high level”, but varies from location to location. “The clinic operation is therefore mostly normal, and the operational level is also high”, no interventions are currently being postponed, it said on APA request. Due to the structure, one can “offer a continuous supply network”. On Wednesday, 477 employees out of a total of 22,000 were unable to work because of Corona – as a contact person or because of a confirmed infection. In addition, there were 973 “normal” sick days and 41 care leave. There will be no vacation bans, LHStv confirmed. Stephan Pernkopf (ÖVP): “In the summer it is important that our employees can relax and catch their breath.” The information is given for dealing with the abolition of the quarantine and the associated question of whether infected people will work in hospitals and homes only developed a concept.
When asked, the hospitals of the Styrian KAGes (hospital society) did not comment on whether infected employees should be used to care for vulnerable patients. Reference was made to a statement on Thursday. Operations do not currently have to be postponed due to Corona. However, there are still problems due to a lack of staff, which is why some patients are being transferred, the APA said.
There are also no postponements of elective interventions in Burgenland, Vorarlberg and Carinthia. “But that can change if more employees are absent,” said Gerd Kurath from the Carinthian state press service on Wednesday when asked by APA. There was no information yet on how the state hospitals and nursing homes in Carinthia intend to deal with the quarantine, and the responsible departments are currently working on a plan for this. As the Humanomed group informed the ORF Carinthia, no employees with a CT value of less than 30 would be deployed.
The Vorarlberg hospital operating company (KHBG) informed APA that there were restrictions on planned treatments due to vacancies in individual areas. At the end of the quarantine, it was said that the current failure rate of 1.1 percent of employees gave no reason to let those who tested positive work for the time being. If the number of employee absences increases so much that patient care is endangered, we reserve the right to allow employees who have tested positive to work under special protective measures if they are symptom-free and able to work. The Vorarlberg nursing home operator Benevit will wait for the state’s specifications in this regard.
In Burgenland, too, no planned operations have to be postponed in the KRAGES (Burgenländische Krankenanstalten GmbH) hospitals. However, this could become necessary again if the number of Covid 19 patients in the other intensive care units increases, doctors are needed there more and are consequently missing in the operating room, said a KRAGES spokesman on APA request. The quarantine will not change much in hospital practice. “The comprehensive FFP2 mask requirement has been in force for more than a year, and: sick leave is sick leave,” said KRAGES.