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The hiring process for the company in charge of the hospital's construction is expected to take place in 2021.
- A.M. Costa Rica wire services illustrative photo -

Published Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Despite the pandemic a new $280-plus
public hospital will be built

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Even though last week Social Security announced an eventual saturation of beds in public hospitals to care for patients infected with covid-19, on Monday the construction of a new public hospital in Cartago Province was announced that will require an investment between $288 million and $295 million.

The plan for the construction of the new hospital is in the final stage and will be designed according to the availability of funds of Social Security.

According to Román Macaya-Hayes, president of Social Security, the hospital will include 67 medical offices, 10 general operating rooms and 2 for obstetrics, 40 spaces for emergency observation, 457 hospital beds, among other areas.

The hiring process for the company in charge of the hospital's construction is expected to take place in 2021.

The new Cartago hospital is one of several plans to build more hospitals, clinics and the purchase of medical equipment, Social Security said.

Last week, Social Security announced the use of the Intensive Care Units, ICU's, available in private hospitals to expand the capacity of attention to covid-19 patients.

The possibility of using these services in private ICU'S is allowed through a General Health Law decree. The law allows approximately 22 available beds to be enabled from the ICU's in private hospitals such as Clínica Bíblica, CIMA and Clínica Católica.

Intensive care units in public hospitals are a few weeks away from reaching its maximum occupancy capacity, Macaya said.

The University of Costa Rica, the Intel Company and Social Security used projection models to estimate the future evolution of the virus presented in different scenarios, indicating that the maximum occupancy of beds in the ICU's would be reaching the maximum limit between September and October. This leaves just weeks before capacity is reached.

According to Macaya, since July the increase in the number of cases has been constant and considerable. During the last weeks, an average of 1,000 cases has been reached daily, which contrasts with what happened just two months ago, when it took 5 days to reach the same number.

Currently, 55% of patients were infected by a family member or in social outings. And 31% of infections happened at work.

Social Security recently announced that they have invested approximately $113,786,010 from the Contingency Fund to hire more employees, materials, supplies, equipment and infrastructure to face the national emergency due to the pandemic.

The goal of the investment is to have 1,345 beds, of which 359 would be for patients who require intensive care. And the remaining beds for moderate-care patients. "Today we have 304 beds which more than 76% are occupied," Macaya said. "No health system in the world, or our country, can support an exponential increase in cases."

Enabling more ICU's for the attention of covid-19 patients is vital to address the magnitude of the pandemic, which continues to cause more deaths and infections.

As of Tuesday, the Ministry of Health reported the following on the statistics of the virus in the country:

777 new covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 35,969 active cases. The ages of patients infected range from a three-month-old baby to a 100-year-old person.

11,786 foreign-born people have been infected with a total of 58,138 cases since March, approximately 20% of the total cases.

• 631 patients are being treated in public hospitals, where 249 patients are in ICU’s in delicate health conditions (ages range from 24 to a 91-year-old person). And 382 patients are in recovery rooms. The majority of the rest of the infected patients are quarantined in their homes.

• 21,536 coronavirus patients have fully recovered, which is a 37% recovery rate of the total cases since March.

• 114,929 people have been ruled out.

• 188,249 medical covid-19 tests have been made.

633 deaths of people infected with covid-19, approximately 1.1% death rate of the total cases since March. Of these 240 were women and 393 men. The ages range from 19 to a 100-year-old person.

As of Aug. 31, authorities confirmed the death of 31 foreign-born patients. The youngest and most recent victim was a 19-year-old woman who lived in Guanacaste Province. Before then, on July 30, the ministry announced they would not provide updated information on foreign-born people who died from covid-19 in the country, which at the time authorities reported 30 had died from the virus since March.

Readers can see the updated number of total patients in each district at the National Distance Education University on its Covid-19 Map.

As of Tuesday night, the pandemic has killed 933,490 patients worldwide, according to recent statistics reported by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Should health authorities use the capital planned for new projects to invest more resources in addressing the health crisis caused by covid-19?
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