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New Osaka COVID-19 center to begin partial operations with many nurse positions unfilled

The temporary facility "Osaka corona jusho center" (Osaka severe coronavirus center) is seen on the grounds of Osaka General Medical Center in Osaka's Sumiyoshi Ward on Dec. 7, 2020. (Pool photo)

OSAKA -- A temporary facility for patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms in this western Japan city is set to begin only partial operations on Dec. 15 due to a lack of nurses, Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura revealed Dec. 7.

    As of the morning of Dec. 7, only around 80 of the approximately 130 nurses necessary to run the "Osaka corona jusho center" (Osaka severe coronavirus center) in the city of Osaka's Sumiyoshi Ward in western Japan at full capacity had been lined up to work at the facility. By the night of the same day, the National Governors' Association announced that 26 nurses from 13 prefectures would be dispatched to the Osaka center, but it is unlikely that the facility, with its 30 beds, will be able to function at full capacity.

    On this day, Gov. Yoshimura went on an inspection of the site, which is in a prefabricated building on the grounds of Osaka General Medical Center. Yoshimura received an explanation about the lack of partitions between patients' beds in the ICU, as well as the glass-walled nurses' station that make it easy to confirm patients' statuses. Asked about his two-phase plan to add another 30 beds to the center by the spring of 2021, Yoshimura said, "We'll first operate with 30 beds, and then decide where to go from there," indicating that he would be reexamining the original plan, including the option to freeze it.

    As of Dec. 7, 68.4% of beds for patients with severe cases of COVID-19 in the prefecture of Osaka were occupied, a level that is considered "strained." While approximately 20 doctors -- the number needed to run the center -- have been secured, it has been much more difficult to find nurses to work for the facility. Through the National Governors' Association and the Union of Kansai Governments, 13 prefectures responded to Osaka's request for the dispatch of nurses. "The circumstances are difficult, but we want to cooperate across prefectural borders," a government official at the Shiga Prefectural Government said.

    Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura, left, inspects the temporary facility "Osaka corona jusho center" (Osaka severe coronavirus center) on the grounds of Osaka General Medical Center in Osaka's Sumiyoshi Ward on Dec. 7, 2020. (Pool photo)

    To assist Osaka Municipal Public Health Centers, meanwhile, a total of 21 medical staff such as doctors, public health nurses and pharmacists were dispatched from nine prefectures and began working in Osaka on Dec. 7.

    (Japanese original by Yumi Shibamura, Osaka City News Department)

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