After several days of alarming overcrowding, hospitals in Israel reported a significant decrease in the number of patients admitted to internal departments Wednesday.
Health officials stated that the Israeli media’s appeal to the public, urging them to go to their local family doctors rather than the hospital, assisted in relieving the overcrowding.
Earlier this week, many hospitals declared they had reached or exceeded full capacity, with medical centers in Jerusalem, Haifa, Tiberias, Ashkelon, Tel Aviv and Holon reporting overcrowding that in some cases reached 150 percent of their maximum.
Jerusalem’s Shaare Tzedek Medical Center reported a peak of 130% capacity in its internal departments and Ichilov Hospital at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv reached 120%.
Several hospital wards are still reporting overcrowding, though less severe, Israel Radio reported.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service said it had increased the number of crews on standby to try to meet the increased demand, which was blamed on winter ailments.
The current wave is a seasonal phenomenon as winter brings with it a spate of flu, lung infections and other ailments.
On Wednesday, a 32-year-old man at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba was put in critical condition by a bout of swine flu. The virus is suspected in at least one death in Israel this season, and several more in the Palestinian Authority.