Rio’s Olympic Hospitals Unable to Take New Patients, Report Says

  • Hospitals improvising with gurneys and chairs in hallways
  • Rio says medical council accusations politically motivated

The five hospitals recommended by Rio de Janeiro for Olympic tourists are so full that some have been forced to leave patients on gurneys in hallways, according to a report from the local medical council.

Patients lay in the hallway of Lourenco Jorge Municipal Hospital.

Source: The Medical Council of Rio de Janeiro (CREMERJ)

Current conditions “don’t allow for accommodation of new patients,” the state’s medical council, known by its acronym Cremerj, said in a report that was vehemently rejected by Rio’s health secretariat. “There are a lot of patients admitted in improvised ways, in hallways, on gurneys and chairs, due to the lack of hospital beds and inadequate structure.”

Health has been a concern for Olympic tourists due to the Zika virus borne by mosquitoes, which are less prevalent in Brazil’s winter months of mid-June through mid-September. Hospitals’ low capacity to handle emergencies may be of greater concern. With its finances in tatters, the state of Rio de Janeiro has delayed salaries to hospital personnel, and there has been a shortage of basic medical supplies. Its fiscal crisis was so acute that the city of Rio, which enjoys more financial stability, took control of two state-run hospitals this year.

To read about Rio state’s fiscal crisis, click here

Cremerj found overcrowding in all the hospital emergency rooms it inspected, according to the report.

Renovations, equipment

Cremerj is seeking political gain by denigrating the image the public hospitals that have been preparing for the games for four years, according to an e-mailed statement from the city’s health secretariat. The units underwent renovations and received new equipment, the secretariat added.

Patients lay inside Albert Schweitzer Municipal Hospital.

Source: The Medical Council of Rio de Janeiro (CREMERJ)

Brazil’s federal health ministry has made more resources available to ensure Olympic tourists can be attended, according to the local organizing committee. The health ministry purchased 146 new ambulances for the games, will supply 135 back-up hospital beds, plus station first-aid teams at a military base for emergencies.

Cremerj visited the five hospitals from July 5 to 11 and published its report on July 15. In addition to the five hospitals designated to attend to Olympic tourists, there are also nine primary care and emergency units around the city that Cremerj did not inspect. Olympic athletes and delegations will receive medical support on site.

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