Cologne, Germany, April 28, 2020 – SARS-CoV-2 still has us fully in its grip – and not only those who are demonstrably infected. The economy is still at a standstill in large parts, even if the first tentative attempts at easing and baby steps towards normality are now being taken. For weeks, we have been accepting many cuts in order to protect high-risk patients and not overburden the healthcare system.
However, we are forgetting that the danger of overburdening comes from a completely different direction: too many patients prefer to stay at home in the current situation instead of seeing a doctor. You only have to look at the statistics to see this: Cancer cases, heart attacks – many numbers have magically dropped compared to the previous year. The consequences are devastating, because late presentation to a doctor usually makes treatment much more complicated. And we can also expect a “run” on the healthcare system from elective patients who are currently postponing planned surgery and procedures due to Corona.
How long can one withstand a strain?
But if the strain on physicians and medical staff is already high due to Corona, we clearly have to ask ourselves how long our healthcare system can withstand a disproportionately high burden at all. And this will inevitably come, since “regular” operations in clinics and hospitals will only be postponed by Corona, perhaps even dangerously piled up, and – if we do not take countermeasures – will collapse in a huge tidal wave over our healthcare system.
Who will take over the follow-up treatment?
And even if we succeed in treating this wave of “pent-up” patients, we are nevertheless immediately faced with the next problem: the follow-up care of patients in rehabilitation and nursing facilities will be difficult to organize. After all, these very facilities, which are so important for the healthcare system as a whole, have already been hit hard by the Corona crisis – especially financially. Here, as in many sectors of the economy, there is the threat of a wave of bankruptcies that could have immense repercussions.
In a world where everything revolves around Corona, there is a danger of becoming blind to other challenges. This must not be allowed to happen. For all these obvious challenges listed above that will come after – or worse, at the same time as – Corona, the additional costs and the question of who will bear them have not even been taken into account.