The coronavirus pandemic was very much present in the everyday work of intensive care units. In this second year of the coronavirus, we cared for 416 coronavirus patients requiring intensive care and 2,400 intensive care patients in all.

In 2021, we cared for 416 coronavirus patients requiring intensive care in the HUS area. Among these, the intensive care mortality rate was 12%, and the hospital mortality rate was 18%.

In all, there were 2,400 intensive care patients during the year. For all intensive care patients, the intensive care mortality rate was 7.6% and the hospital mortality rate was 11%.

For the second year running, coronavirus dominated the work of our intensive care units.

“We now have a realistic outlook. We are confident that we know how to care for coronavirus patients and trust that vaccinations will shield against serious forms of the disease. We knew that pandemic waves would keep on coming,” says Head Physician Minna Bäcklund, Head of Intensive Care.

The number of intensive care patients other than coronavirus patients has decreased slightly during the pandemic, which was apparent in the number of treatment periods last year as compared to the time before the pandemic. In 2021, we cared for a total of 2,400 intensive care patients, compared with 2,650 in 2019.

The coronavirus load at our intensive care units was highest at the New Year and in March. After a quieter summer, the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care began to rise towards the end of the year, but the overall load remained reasonable up until Christmas.

Having said that, the prolonged epidemic has inevitably placed a lot of strain on staff.

Working for a common cause

Collaboration has been vital in coping with the pandemic.

“We have engaged in excellent collaboration within the HUS Specific Catchment Area but also with other university hospitals and central hospitals in Finland regarding care for coronavirus patients,” says Bäcklund.

The pandemic has raised public awareness of the expertise of our intensive care professionals. Ensuring sufficient competence among intensive care personnel requires standardized intensive care specialization training, also for nurses.

Despite the pandemic, intensive care units also engaged in quality work and prepared for quality standard accreditation. At the simulated accreditation undertaken in November, the Meilahti intensive care unit and the Intensive Care Division were given excellent feedback on their quality system work.

Preparations for the relocation to the Bridge Hospital and design of the operations of its intensive care area progressed and are still ongoing.