A giant hospital is being built near the airport to stop a flare-up in November. But it could be too late.
Near Madrid airport, the cranes work 24 hours a day to end in November on “pandemic hospital”. But the second wave of coronavirus arrived earlier than expected, putting the health system of the Spanish capital to the test.
In an immense field on the side of the highway, between clouds of dust dozens of trucks “roar” and 400 workers work day and night since July.
The concrete mixers are turning at full speed, the hoses spit out gallons and gallons of cement, and the welders blow up sparks from the tall columns that make up the building’s skeleton.
“Two months ago there was nothing here,” says Alejo Mirando, general director of infrastructure for the Madrid region, the main focus of the epidemic in Spain in the months of March and April.
With a cost higher than 50 million euros (about 59 million dollars), the Isabel Zendal hospital, renamed as “pandemic hospital”, will have 45,000 m2 to accommodate more than 1,000 sick in the event of a health crisis.
Windows to monitor patients without contamination, huge hallways without individual rooms, negative pressure rooms for autopsies: the architecture is designed to “prevent the transmission of viral load” and is inspired by the Ifema congress hall, converted between March and May in a field hospital, explains Mirando.
Promised to better prepare the region for a second wave of the epidemic, the hospital will be delivered too late to serve the increase in patients with whom is already dealing the healthcare system.
“We are concerned about the state of public health and the evolution of the epidemic in Madrid”, admitted on Monday the head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez.
Madrid, with more than 6.5 million inhabitants, represents since the beginning of the epidemic about a third of the 29,000 deaths by covid-19 in the country. 73 of the 191 deaths in the last week came from the capital region.
“The situation is very, very worrying“agrees Dr. Silvia Durán, spokesperson for the Amyts medical association, concerned about the” rapid progression “of the contagion curve” similar to that of the beginning of the pandemic. “
“Health centers (primary care, editor’s note) they are the ones that are currently containing this second wave, “but” hospitals are already preparing, “with 16% of their beds occupied by covid patients (against 6% in the rest of the country), he explains.
“We are on the brink of collapse,” says José Molero, of the CSIT union. “The next level will be when the population will go directly to the hospital, and will not go through the primary health centers,” he says.
Doctors complain of lack of staff, resources and rest. They are “exhausted”, exhausted because they receive “up to 60 patients” a day, he says.
Densely populated and highly connected to the rest of the country, Madrid is “a high-risk area,” Fernando Simón, the chief epidemiologist at the health ministry, said Monday.
But the regional government, which has the powers of health management, calls for calm.
The situation is not at all “comparable to the months of March and April”, since the positives are much younger and mortality very inferior, The regional Minister of Health, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, assured this Friday, before announcing, however, new measures, such as the limitation of private meetings in indoor and outdoor spaces to 10 people or the prohibition of dancing at weddings.