Hospital staffing shortages lead to reduced COVID-19 capacity and limited emergency services

Hospital staffing shortages lead to reduced COVID-19 capacity and limited emergency services

January 14, 2022 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Takuya Kayo


On January 13, it was revealed that at 90 hospitals in Okinawa Prefecture, including major medical facilities, that accept COVID-19 patients, there are 989 healthcare workers absent from work. Although 648 hospital beds had been reserved for COVID-19 patients, that number has been reduced by 17 to a total of 631 beds due to the staffing shortages. According to Toru Itokazu, the Chief Medical Officer of Okinawa, this is the first time that worker absences due to infectious disease have led to a reduction in the number of hospital beds reserved.


The breakdown of the 989 absent workers at the 90 hospitals is as follows: 45 doctors (14 COVID-positive), 494 nurses (152 COVID-positive), and 450 paramedics and office staff (106 COVID-positive). At 20 of the 21 major medical facilities in Okinawa, a total of 661 workers are absent. As of January 13, 14 hospitals have partially limited their emergency department, and 8 hospitals have restricted general outpatient care as a result of the successive absences. Itokazu says, “Infections are spreading rapidly, so it is very difficult to predict staff absences.”


In Okinawa, irreplaceable healthcare workers who have been in close contact with a COVID-positive individual may continue to report to work if they are fully vaccinated and test negative on daily antigen tests. According to a prefectural representative, no one in this category has tested positive at this time.


To address the present difficulties ensuring beds and managing hospital admissions caused by staffing shortages, on January 12, the prefecture restarted operations of a hospital admission waiting station for COVID-positive individuals in the southern part of Okinawa’s main island. On January 19, one overnight care facility with 80 rooms will open in Naha. This will bring the total number of such facilities in Okinawa Prefecture to nine, with a total of 932 rooms.


(English translation by T&CT and Ellen Huntley)


Go to Japanese


Previous Article:
Next Article:

[Similar Articles]