Monday, June 27

‘Half of our Covid patients are under the age of 43,’ reports staff at one of the most under pressure hospitals in Paris


At Delafontaine hospital, in the heart of the poorest region of mainland France, the ravages of the third wave of coronavirus infections in France are evident.

A 30-year-old man, who had no prior medical conditions before being struck by Covid-19, wakes up after three weeks in intensive care.

“This one has to get better,” a nurse tells an assistant. “But I have learned not to have too much hope,” he adds, after a moment of reflection.

As the number of critically ill patients in France surpasses 5,000, more than at the height of the second wave last fall, Delafontaine has had to add eight more beds in intensive care, bringing the total to 26.

With doctors in the Paris region warning that they will soon have to start deciding who to save, two patients have already been transferred from Delafontaine to other facilities.

Daniel Da Silva, the head of Delafontaine’s intensive care unit, is hopeful that he will never have to turn patients away.

But he is concerned about the profile of people now showing severe symptoms in a densely populated high-rise area with a large immigrant population.

Half of the hospital’s Covid-19 patients are under the age of 43, and are far below the waiting list for a vaccine in descending order of age.

And for the first time in the hospital since the pandemic began, pregnant women are ending up in intensive care.

“We had to intubate and perform an emergency cesarean section on a 23-year-old girl,” says Da Silva, calling it “unprecedented.”

Seine-Saint-Denis currently has the second highest incidence rate of Covid-19 in France, with 783 per 100,000 people, more than double the national average.

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Last week, around 30 teachers at a high school in the town of Drancy walked out of work saying they were in “imminent danger” of falling prey to a pandemic that has killed 20 people among their students’ families in one year.

On Wednesday night, President Emmanuel Macron, who has so far resisted imposing a third nationwide blockade, will address the nation to announce new restrictions.

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Da Silva says his biggest concern is how to maintain his unit with staff, and more and more caregivers are being pulled from work due to stress or anxiety.

“People are exhausted and the first wave PTSD problem is far from resolved,” he said.

Alice Auroux, a nurse who said she hadn’t had a proper vacation in a year, expressed the despair many healthcare workers have expressed at the government’s failure so far to enforce a stay-at-home order.

“It feels like we’re not doing it,” he said.

Mathilde Azzi, a young doctor who canceled her vacation and doubled her shifts to stay on the front line, expressed special concern for non-Covid patients.

Like all hospitals in the Paris area, Delafontaine was ordered to cut back on surgery to make room for Covid patients.

“They (non-Covid patients) are the ones who will pay the price,” Azzi said, noting a decline in the number of patients admitted for heart attacks, a trend he believed was due to people not coming to the hospital. doctor on time. .

As France prepares for further restriction of freedoms, Da Silva said he understood the cost to the economy and the psychological well-being of the nation under orders to stay home.

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“But at the same time, I see what we are up against here. One thing is for sure: with the confinements, we save more lives than we can count. “


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