March sees 22% more visitors to Malta over last year
Hospital swamped with work as cold spell hits the island
Emergency services at Mater Dei Hospital are overwhelmed with demand as country sees increase in patients suffering from cold-related illnesses
7 January 2017, 3:27pm
Although it is fairly common for health services to expect an increase in workload due to the flu, pneumonia and other ailments caused by the drop in temperature, hospital services in Malta have seen a 20% increase in the admission of medical patients when compared to the same period last year.
Provisional figures seen by MaltaToday show that patients treated at the hospital affected by cold weather have gone up to 500.
The patients are being treated for an array of cold weather-related illnesses, including chest infections, pneumonia and pulmonary edema.
Hospital CEO Ivan Falzon has told MaltaToday that the emergency services were extremely busy, registering “an abnormal number of high admissions”. Falzon went on to appeal to the general public to seek the hospital’s assistance in case of real emergencies only.
The elderly – those aged 65 and over – and young children have been the worst hit by the cold spell. The busiest times also turn out to be during the night, when ambulances are at their busiest with multiple calls for assistance coming in.
Health Minister Chris Fearne sang the hospital staff's praises: “Heartfelt thanks to the health professionals who once again are rising to the occasion.”
Malta is not the only country struggling with the effects of the cold weather.
In the UK, the British Red Cross has said its volunteers have stepped in to transport hospital patients home again as the emergency departments struggled with the “humanitarian crisis” to keep up with a rush of patients over winter.
“We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much-needed beds,” Red Cross CEO Mike Adamson said.
"This means deploying our team of emergency volunteers and even calling on our partner Land Rover to lend vehicles to transport patients and get the system moving.
Meanwhile in Malta, shelters Dar Papa Frangisku and Dar Maria Dolores are offering beds to homeless people who need a place where to stay during the cold night.
“You won’t see people sleeping in the streets like you do at Termini station, but this silent and hidden reality exists,” Ernest Cherrett, head of operations at the men’s shelter, told MaltaToday. Men seeking shelter include Maltese, Europeans shifting from one place to another and migrants.
Anna Johnson, who runs the recently-opened Dar Maria Dolores, said clients are referred to the women’s shelter from social agencies and there had been requests for admissions.
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