Covid-19 patients transferred to Faro Hospital as Portimão’s intensive care unit closes for renovations

Three Covid-19 patients being treated at Portimão Hospital have been transferred to Faro Hospital so that “vital repair work” to the intensive care unit’s flooring could be carried out.

The decision to close Portimão’s ICU for two months was made by the Algarve University Hospital Board (CHUA), which manages the region’s public hospitals, to ensure the damaged flooring in one of the unit’s corridors could be replaced before the peak summer months.

In an interview with SIC television, CHUA boss Ana Paula Gonçalves explained that the board had already launched several public tenders to find a company to carry out the work but only now a company had come forward, likely because of a business slowdown due to the pandemic.

“The 20-metre-long corridor is completely degraded,” she said, adding that the flooring is filled with holes, which puts at risk the safety of patients and health professionals. “Health workers have to be particularly careful when moving patients on stretchers while attempting to avoid the holes.”

Meantime, opposition PSD MPs in the Algarve have already questioned the timing, calling for hospital authorities to rethink their decision, which they described as “hasty”.

In a joint statement, they “expressed their concern” that the region’s response to the pandemic could be affected by the works given the “uncertainty surrounding the evolution of the disease”.

“We understand that the renovations are necessary,” they say, “and that the lack of investment in the Algarve’s public hospitals is one of the region’s most problematic issues. However, we feel this decision isn’t risk-free and should be re-evaluated.”

MPs Cristóvão Norte, Rui Cristina and Ofélia Ramos, who sign the statement, also question why the works should take so long to complete.

The hospital administration boss assures, however, that the decision was made after taking into account the reduced number of patients requiring intensive care treatment at Portimão Hospital.

What is certain now is that, for the next two months, Faro Hospital will be the only public hospital in the region with an intensive care unit prepared to treat Covid-19 patients.