Italian Mayor: Coronavirus ‘Patients Who Cannot Be Treated Are Left to Die’

An elderly patient is attended in one of the emergency structures that were set up to ease procedures outside the hospital of Brescia, Northern Italy, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older …
Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP

An Italian mayor has fallen under scrutiny for stating that patients who cannot be treated for the coronavirus “are left to die.” A doctor at a hospital in Italy’s northern region, however, has stated that “you probably don’t proceed” with patients “between 80 and 95” with serious breathing difficulties.

“It seems that [coronavirus] growth is slowing down, and instead it is because there are no more places [to treat patients],” tweeted Bergamo Mayor Giorgio Gori on Tuesday.

“Patients who cannot be treated are left to die,” he added.

Bergamo is an Italian city just northeast of Milan located in the nation’s Lombardy region, which has been at the center of Italy’s coronavirus crisis.

Gori has since fallen under fire for his remarks, as the coronavirus epidemic is a delicate issue in Italy, especially given that hospital beds and ventilators are becoming more and more invaluable as confirmed cases of the Chinese virus surge throughout the nation, according to La Repubblica.

Lombardy Welfare Councilor Giulio Gallera — who acknowledges that hospitals have become so crowded they have run out of space for patients — responded to the mayor’s claims by denying that hospitals in Lombardy have started prioritizing “who is to be saved and who is not.”

“We have many hospitals that are under great pressure, after which we have a system that is holding up and is helping them,” said Gallera, adding that Lombardy is remedying the overcrowding of health facilities by transferring patients with coronavirus to hospitals in other regions.

“It may be that there are no places available in hospitals, but the regional system intervenes there,” affirmed Gallera.

Gori reacted to the denial by stating that he should have used “more delicacy” with his remarks, but nonetheless, maintains that his initial statement about coronavirus patients being “left to die” is accurate.

“This is what several doctors engaged in dealing with the emergency in our hospitals have told [us],” said Gori, “but I should have said with more delicacy, I apologize.”

Doctors in Italy reportedly say that they have been forced to overlook older, sicker patients to prioritize those who are younger and more likely to survive, reports the Times.

“If someone between 80 and 95 has serious breathing difficulties, you probably don’t proceed,” said Christian Salaroli, anesthetist at a hospital in Bergamo, according to the Times.

At San Giovanni Bosco Hospital in Turin, head anesthetist Marco Vergano said, “We can’t invent new intensive care unit beds.”

“It’s important to understand that patients who arrive with a grave interstitial pneumonia from Covid-19 will not be in intensive care for a few days but for weeks,” he added.

Meanwhile, Emanuele Catena, director of intensive care at Sacco di Milano hospital, said that the amount of coronavirus patients his hospital receives on a daily basis equates to numbers “of war,” according to a report by Il Mattino.

“To date, we have 23 patients intubated in intensive care here at Sacco, however in Lombardy there are more than 500 patients who require intensive care and mechanical ventilation,” said Catena.

“Every day we intubate from 30 to 50, they are war numbers, I can confirm this,” he added.

An additional 196 people have died from coronavirus in Italy in just the last 24 hours, as newly released data from the Italian government reports that the nation’s death toll has been brought from 631 on Tuesday to 827 on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, Italy has suffered a total of 12,462 confirmed coronavirus cases.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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