Lanzarote, in search of a new hospital
Lanzarote has gone through what has probably been the worst year in its history from an economic but also a health point of view. The Covid Pandemic that has hit the island hard, has revealed many of its shortcomings, especially that of a new hospital adapted to the current population of the island. Lanzarote needs more ICU beds, new facilities and, above all, more health personnel to attend to them. Lanzarote is looking for the so-called new “Sanitary City” in a clear and wide area near Arrecife. A future that already has to begin to be projected.
There are still few voices calling for new sanitary facilities. They believe that it is a utopia given the high cost they would entail, but there is increasing agreement on the need that Lanzarote must have a large area of more than 2,000 thousand square meters to create the health city of the future.
Extensive facilities that support the current and future growth of the island. In an area near Arrecife but with good communications. Quite the opposite of the current Hospital of Lanzarote, constrained in a residential and industrial area, without land to grow and, what is worse, with very poor and critical accessibility at certain peak times for vehicles and ambulances.
The current director-manager of the General Hospital and Health Centers, the socialist José Luis Aparicio believes that the hospital is very well equipped and that it is a modern center, although he acknowledges that it does not have the best location. It also recognizes that certain services such as ICUs need to evolve. He does not hide the saturation that the center has suffered in this Covid 19 pandemic, but understands that this is not the usual situation. Even so, he believes that the ICU should evolve “at the same rate as the increase in the population it serves and should also keep pace with the growth of the rest of the hospital, which is increasingly presenting a larger and better portfolio of services. For example, the upcoming opening of the Hemodynamics Unit necessarily implies conditioning the ICU to provide support to that unit when necessary. Therefore, we consider it necessary to increase the number of ICU beds and obviously the number of staff who attend them. We are working on it and that is precisely one of the reforms that we want to undertake in the hospital in the short term, ”he says.
Antonio Becerra, surgeon at the Doctor Molina Orosa Hospital and representative of the Canary Islands Medical Union in Lanzarote believes that the Hospital could still last for many years although some aspects could be improved. His main question is whether it is worth preparing a hospital for exceptional cases such as the pandemic with what this implies in public spending,
On the other hand, other doctors consulted at the Molina Orosa Hospital do not share that criterion. They consider that what the pandemic has done is show the weak seams of the Hospital. That in our hospital there is a lack of ICUs for the actual number of inhabitants there are, specialists are lacking and hence the long waiting lists that we suffer, as well as that we have the lowest ratios of ICU beds per 100,000 inhabitants in the Canary Islands and even in Spain .
An easily accessible center
However, Becerra considers that it is necessary to “consider the construction of a new health center with ease of access and possibilities for growth, the current hospital, although not very old, has been constrained and without the possibility of growth or implementation of all the new needs that the increasingly modern healthcare poses. In the current one, there are also insufferable accessibility conditions both for the population and for professionals. See the situation of the parking lots, the cafeteria, the containers installed everywhere, to put offices … Finally, what has happened with the hemodynamic unit that has been paralyzed due to the need for beds due to the covid, something that the island desperately needs to attend to all the patients with heart attacks and heart disease who cannot wait for their transfer to Las Palmas to survive. We definitely need a modern hospital located in an accessible area with the possibility of growth, ”says the representative of the Lanzarote Medical Union.
Becerra claims a hospital “in conditions in accordance with current standards, that is not embedded in the city, in a situation that is currently unsustainable due to accessibility and lack of growth possibility, with a planning of the facilities that allows both staff and users feel comfortable and efficient in them ”, he says. “Urgent services such as hemodynamics, radiotherapy, home care units and more efficient Major Outpatient Surgery must be implemented in the hospital, as is happening in all modern hospitals. Unfortunately, the Pandemic situation has made our leaders focus only on this issue and they have forgotten what a comprehensive health management thought for the future means. This will happen, but the damage that is being caused to Health on the island will be very difficult to reverse. We will see it in the next few years ”.
Aspire to more
The vision of public officials does not always coincide with that of health professionals. In this sense, Marcos Hernández, deputy Canary Socialist Parliamentary Group and spokesman for Health, believes that things are not so bad. “Lanzarote has a good hospital facility, along with well-qualified health personnel. Obviously, they always aspire to have the best facilities and resources, and although current circumstances are difficult due to the pandemic, investment has been increased to increase new infrastructures such as the Radiotherapy Bunker or to have Hemodynamics on our island. The Government of the Canary Islands, which is making a significant effort in healthcare investment, as shown in the 2021 Budget, also plans to expand through a modular infrastructure,
Hernández believes that the ideal would be for all politicians to row in the same direction, “but it has been seen how in an emergency situation such as the one we are experiencing due to COVID-19, there are those who try to find revenue with nonsensical proposals, which attempt against the scientific field through Public Health recommendations. Decisions in public health are endorsed by experts and on that basis we should all be aware of the importance of compliance ”.
As for what would be the location of a new hospital, he points out “that the current location is the best, with the extensions and additions that are being incorporated to improve our quality of care. Lanzarote needs the Doctor Molina Orosa Hospital to continue on this path of continuing to incorporate more financial and personal resources (as is the case with this 2021 budget), and therefore improve one of the key elements of the system, such as healthcare waiting lists. The important thing is that for this Government and for this spokesperson the improvement of care is within the main objectives of the Government’s action and management ”.
The opinion of the socialist Marcos Hernández is the least shared by professionals. Even in the Psoe there are already some voices that are beginning to recognize that this Hospital with no possibilities of growth and constrained between industrial, commercial and residential areas is located in the worst place.
In this sense, the key question arises: If you had that lot with nothing, would you build the new hospital there or in any other place with more space and fewer negative conditions?
The health professionals consulted recognize that raising this investment of 60 or 70 million for a new hospital building is not easy, much less getting Gran Canaria and Tenerife to approve it, but they believe that the deputies of Lanzarote should be much more ambitious, above all when it is the island most historically punished in insularized investments of the Government of the Canary Islands
More ICU beds, urgent need
On the other hand, the deputy of CC, Oswaldo Betancort, was clear about it. He assured that “Lanzarote must resize its health infrastructure according to the population weight, another issue is what to prioritize, and at this time the priority is ICU beds,” he pointed out.
“I believe that consensus must be sought among all political representatives. This is what Coalición Canaria has been doing since the beginning of this crisis, and proof of this is all the times that we have built bridges to the government of the Canary Islands or in all those institutions where the Psoe governs, and with constructive work from the Parliament chamber , where we contribute the experience of the years of management and show the possible deficiencies in each island, according to the demands and needs of our fellow citizens ”.
Regarding the location of the hospital, he pointed out that “for any public infrastructure and for the urban development of any city, it is essential to provide the territory with legal security. It is unfortunate that Arrecife continues without a plan that orders it as the capital of Lanzarote and does not facilitate investment and the promotion of economic activity. The abandonment of Arrecife in this sense is more than insulting ”.
For her part, the popular parliamentarian, Ástrid Pérez, was also forceful. He pointed out that, in his opinion, the right place for a future sanitary city, more than necessary on the island, is none other than Arrecife. “We have land, perfectly delimited, which was already raised in its day, at the entrance to Arrecife, with a clear connection for all municipalities,” he pointed out. “The island needs a new hospital and this is the responsibility of the Government of the Canary Islands and I think they have not loved us too much. They are not aware that we are not talking about a hospital for a population of 160,000 inhabitants, but that we also have two million tourists and many people who live on the island in an unregulated situation. I think a new hospital is needed as soon as possible ”.