2. Ensuring sufficient physical infrastructure and workforce capacity
ENSURING SUFFICIENT PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND WORKFORCE CAPACITY is crucial for dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, as there may be both a surge in demand and a decreased availability of health workers. The section considers the physical infrastructure available in a country and where there are shortages, it describes any measures being implemented or planned to address them. It also considers the health workforce, including what countries are doing to maintain or enhance capacity, the responsibilities and skill-mix of the workforce, and any initiatives to train or otherwise support health workers.
2.1 Physical infrastructure
The main concern regarding physical infrastructure was providing enough capacity to keep COVID-19 patients in separate wards and to provide adequate capacity for therapy with oxygen and in ICUs, including ventilators. The latter was of particular concern as Slovenia at the end of February 2020 was unlikely to secure more than 120 beds for such patients and not all of them would be fitted with adequate ventilators. Hence, the Government decided to push through rapid tendering procedures to purchase ventilators, which led to the commissioning of at least 300 additional ventilators. In the meantime, additional staff, especially nursing staff, will be trained for work in ICUs. Clinicians managing the hospital side of the treatment of Covid-19 patients estimate that currently one third of the capacity dedicated to Covid-19 patients needing hospital and intensive care treatment is occupied (as of 9 April 2020).
A very important challenge in the health as well as social sector is the lack of protective equipment ranging from full FFP3 masks to other parts of personal protective equipment (PPE). Also, in this respect, the Government took very rapid action and secured through various channels, including rapid purchases, rapid tenders and donations at least a 10 to 14-day supply of PPE.
Social care institutions do not stock facemasks routinely, which meant that they were quickly facing problems with ensuring sufficient protection for the employed as well as for their residents. The Ministry of Health together with the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities set up activities to provide nursing homes with adequate PPE and of sufficient quantities to face the huge challenge of managing the epidemic, which affected several nursing homes.