Monday, May 16

Ayuso seeks long-term utility for Zendal seven months after its inauguration

June 8, 2020. Isabel Díaz Ayuso announces the construction of a pandemic hospital that will be built in “record time” for 50 million euros. After having turned the improvised emergency hospital of Ifema into the largest propaganda stage during the first wave – when Madrid had an excess of 140% mortality -, Ayuso wanted one that would be permanent in the capital and looked for an enclave very close to the from the Feria de Madrid, located in the business environment of Valdebebas, a wasteland of offices and half-built buildings in the northeast of Madrid where Esperanza Aguirre projected the failed project of the City of Justice.

The announcement outraged the entire healthcare sector. Seven months after its inauguration, Ayuso is looking for an outlet for that infrastructure that has cost three times more than budgeted and that has become the milestone of his management, after having been unable to carry out budgets in two years and only having approved a legislative project, the umpteenth reform of the Land Law.

The claims of the health workers in June a year ago – and which remain a year later – were the reinforcement of the workforce after four exhausting months in which the Madrid health system collapsed and the waiting lists did not stop growing due to the paralysis of surgical operations, diagnostic tests and first consultations with the specialist. Patients waiting six months for surgery have grown 3,500% since the pandemic began. Primary Care also demanded more professionals –and continues to do so– in the face of the new challenge they had ahead of becoming trackers and resuming activity after months dedicated to Ifema.

The president of the Community of Madrid not only ignored these requests, but three months later – when the Nurse Isabel Zendal hospital was already beginning to be a reality with extra costs that almost tripled the initial budget – she acknowledged in an interview in Telemadrid – in one more of the controversies for which Ayuso has decided to take control of public television – that among his plans was not to hire new toilets for the new health center, but would nourish it with professionals from the rest of the hospitals. The outrage once again ran through the entire Madrid public health network.

VIDEO | Ayuso responds on Telemadrid about the new pandemic hospital in Valdebebas

Nurse Isabel Zendal was inaugurated five months after being announced without operating rooms. The works had not been completed in its entirety on December 1 but the Madrid leader could not wait any longer after having announced that it would be in three months. Now, seven after its inauguration in style – and for which Ayuso prevented access to the press – the Madrid president is looking for ways to prevent the hospital from falling into disuse. Last June, it hosted an international congress on coronavirus organized by the Community of Madrid as it was empty of patients.

The Zendal is made up of several industrial buildings and can house 1,000 beds and 40 ICUs. As it usually welcomes low-risk patients –if a patient deteriorates significantly, he ends up being transferred to any hospital in the public network–, several of the young people who have starred in the fifth wave and who have some mild complication are currently being admitted.

But the epidemiological situation has already forced the Ministry of Health to close a pavilion for vaccination to accommodate more hospitalized. The forecast is that income will continue to grow in the coming weeks because infections have shot up 80% in the last seven days. This will affect hospitalizations, although to a lesser extent than in other waves because the average age of people who require this type of care is 37 years. However, the team led by Enrique Ruiz Escudero assume that Madrid is close to the peak of infections and that the upward trend will soon subside.

Currently, of the thousand beds, 322 are occupied, 30%, according to the data provided to by the Ministry of Health.

The Ayuso government did not expect this explosion of cases at such an advanced vaccination situation and does not lose sight of the long term: when the vaccination campaign – at least the first – comes to an end once it reaches the entire population. For this reason, in the meeting she held with the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, at the Moncloa Palace on Friday, July 9, the president offered the government infrastructure for “future pandemics.” Health competencies are transferred to the autonomous communities, but even so, the Madrid president considered that it was a good proposal.

From their team they do not explain what exactly that offer consists of and they limit themselves to assuring that the offer involves “making a collaboration agreement”. “It is not the first time that it has been offered, it has already been done as a logistics center for vaccines,” these same sources add. What they do not specify is whether this “collaboration” agreement would be prior payment from the central government for making use of the building. The opposition and the health groups already warned months ago that the infrastructure would cease to make sense when revenues fell drastically.

The Zendal has also become one of the major vaccination centers in the region, together with the Wizink Zenter Sports Palace or the Metropolitan football stadium, however, vaccination also has an expiration date when the entire target population receives their dose. In fact, the remoteness of the building, to the north of Madrid, became a handicap and Madrid had to finally enable health centers, proximity spaces, when the population under 50 years of age had to be vaccinated.

Ayuso also announced that it would be the center that would receive patients from the La Paz hospital when it begins to rehabilitate. But the reality is that without operating rooms, without rooms, without a kitchen and with shared bathrooms between eight patients, the Zendal is far from providing the services of a traditional hospital like La Paz, one of the largest in the region.

The complex that the Madrid government repeated “was going to amaze the world”, cost 50 million euros and to be built in six months, is already worth more than 140 million. Only security for one year has cost 1.8 million euros, a contract awarded to a private company owned by a former councilor of the PP in Alcorcón.

The medical staff insist that it is not a hospital. At least, not a typical hospital because the building, where the subcontractors worked day and night for half a year, has basic shortcomings: it has no rooms or operating rooms or emergency rooms or basic facilities that can be found in a hospital. Four bathrooms are shared between 60 patients. It also does not have a kitchen so the food arrives pre-cooked by road. Even water became scarce for patients who in many cases lose their strength from coughing so much, according to several patients reported to this writing.

For this reason, converting it into the temporary hospital in La Paz seems complicated. The latest announcement about its possible usefulness has been to turn it into a rehabilitation center for patients who have passed the Covid-19 and have had sequelae. Many proposals but no concretion for the infrastructure with which Ayuso sought to make “history.”