Coronavirus: Private clinics in Switzerland to relieve pressure on public hospitals

Coronavirus: Private clinics in Switzerland to relieve pressure on public hospitals
Genolier is one of the private clinics to treat coronavirus patients. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP
In an unprecedented move, private clinics in Switzerland will share their staff, rooms, and equipment with the overcrowded public medical centres.

In its raft of measures to combat the coronavirus issued on March 13th, the Federal Council requires all health establishments to renounce “all non-urgent medical treatment and intervention”.

Since then, the activity of private clinics in Switzerland has reduced drastically, making it possible to use their facilities for critical coronavirus patients.

“Today, we are in a situation of calm before the storm”, said Antoine Hubert, administrator of Swiss Medical Network (SMN), an umbrella group for private clinics. 

“We no longer have the opportunity to practice our usual operations, so we have freed up the necessary capacities to be able to intervene when the wave comes “, he added.

All the cantons have already asked for support from private establishments to cope with the influx of Covid-19 patients.

One of them is Genolier clinic in Vaud, which usually treats patients in orthopedics, cardiology, and urology. But for the past few days, the establishment has had a floor and an elevator dedicated especially to coronavirus patients.

The first one was admitted on Friday afternoon.

“For the moment, there are 14 available rooms, but we could also use other floors and accommodate up to 30 patients,” said Philippe Glasson, SMN’s president of medical coordination.

In Geneva, Adrien Bron, head of the Directorate of Health, said that private clinics in the canton were ready to welcome patients if the Geneva University Hospital (HUG) became saturated. About 500 beds will be available.

Last week Geneva authorities have already requisitioned the ICU of the private hospital of La Tour. 

“We are going to requisition all the necessary equipment, spaces and professionals”, said State Council President Antonio Hodgers.

In Fribourg, “we are witnessing a real cooperation between public hospitals and private clinics”, said Anne-Claude Demierre, State Councilor in charge of health.

The private General Clinic is closing its doors temporarily and making its staff and equipment available to the Fribourg Cantonal Hospital.

In order to relieve hospitals under pressure, the army will deploy its medical batallons as well. It will also provide respirators, personnel, beds and help with setting up infrastructure such as tents.


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