COVID-19 crisis – Heroes wear white. Part 2

Sergei
resuscitator, Novosibirsk
“[At the start of the pandemic] our hospital did not have equipment to fight COVID-19, but we were inundated with coronavirus patients. The local health ministry had to give the hospital the status of a COVID-19 hospital.
The necessary equipment was delivered only in September, although the orders [for the supply] were made back in April. There were not enough devices for non-invasive ventilation, infusion pumps, and syringe dispensers. Before that, there was not a single device for non-invasive ventilation in the intensive care unit. As a matter of urgency, we found one apparatus – somehow they were led to someone, and the rest were transferred to mechanical ventilation. On oxygen cans, whoever could survive. Then they brought up the apparatus and made 14 beds instead of six in the intensive care unit.
In April, we had 30 emergency patients a day, now – 110-120. The hospital has 120 beds and 250 people. People lie in the corridors on couches and gurneys that are taken from other departments. On them, people spend a day waiting for space to become free.
There are also many [patients who need resuscitation], there are not enough places. As a result, half of the patients die in intensive care. People with critical respiratory failure come to us, they cannot breathe on their own. Some do not receive help and die while still in the hospital.
From time to time we face moral and ethical questions. When a new critically ill patient arrives, sometimes there is nowhere for him to be placed. We have to withdraw [from intensive care] the most stable one. He may not be completely stable, but we choose the one we believe in, discharge him, and accept a new, difficult patient from the emergency room.
If there were 22 beds in the intensive care unit [instead of 14], there would probably be enough places. But here another problem arises – we have no staff either. Beds can be made, but who will work? Doctors leave us for other cities – where it is even worse.
Such orders come down from above. Those who were engaged only in educational activities, like our professors, were voluntarily sent to work in other cities. Our professors went to work in Irkutsk. They hire interns, but there is still a shortage. There should be six patients per resuscitator. Now – ten to one.
Doctors do not quit – there is always such a desire, but there is no sense. All hospitals are the same and everyone has families. ”
Svetlana
nurse, Leningrad region
“I work in the intensive care unit, with both COVID-19 and general patients. People with COVID-19 constantly come to us, although we do not officially treat coronavirus. They did not redesign us, because then they would have to pay money [to staff for work with coronavirus]. And the chief doctor forbade to say that we have coronavirus patients. In front of patients [also] one cannot say that there is a coronavirus in the intensive care unit.
I got sick in the spring when I had to intubate [our hospital’s] patient zero with COVID-19. This was the head of the administration of one of the settlements of Gatchina. We understood that he had a coronavirus, although they stubbornly hid it from us. The man lay [in the hospital] for ten days, no one did anything, but we went home and infected our relatives. Then the patient was transferred to the cardiac dispensary of our hospital, which was re-profiled into a COVID-19 hospital. There he died. After that, most of the staff went to sick leave, the department was closed for a two-week observation. I fell ill with severe pneumonia and quit my job for three and a half months.
Now we do not receive [additional] payments for working with COVID-19 patients – they only pay [for work] on schedule. We receive even fewer wages [than in normal times], because there is more labor, but the bed turnover has become less: the number of patients who usually lie in two wards is now crammed into three [due to the danger of COVID-19 infection].
Nine people have already left my department. From the neighboring cardiac intensive care unit, 90% of the medical staff left. Doctors are often on duty without nurses, but management ignores this. People do not come here to work, as they understand that the conditions are difficult, and they do not pay money. It’s a shame, because the hospital is huge, one of the best. Excellent doctors, medical staff, high technology. I myself came to work because of this. Now the hospital is falling apart, and no one is doing anything.
The mortality rate has already increased fivefold. I’ve never seen so many corpses every day. At the same time, death is often carried out as pneumonia: we do not have time to take smears. CT and antibody tests often come back late. Because of this, there is a problem with statistics. Everything is understated.”

We’ll talk about underestimating statistics later. Now I would only like to say that those people are heroes. Even the state does not recognize their efforts, we do. Do not harm your immunity and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

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