The doctor José Manuel Peris, who is also a delegate of the Medical Union, addresses the rebound in cases after Christmas and regrets the stressful situation experienced by health workers.
How is the situation in hospitals after Christmas?
It is absolutely disturbing, when not alarming. We have already denounced it from the Medical Union of the Valencian Community. We transmit the deep concern from both primary care physicians as a hospital in the face of the escalation of infections, hospital admissions and intensive care units in a week, as a result of the increase in social contact in the past Christmas holidays. And it remains to see the evolution of the last days that we hope will be very bad. The Department says there is no saturation, but there is: waiting rooms equipped with beds, more and more covid floors full, ICUs overflowing with covid patients, scheduled activities of many suspended specialties, absolute oversaturation in health centers or huge delays of weeks to get an appointment. This is not saturation? The same mistakes have been made again despite the continuous warnings that the Medical Union, Scientific Societies and the College of Physicians made to political leaders. And so we are, whatever they say.
How are the next weeks presented?
Unfortunately, at the base because the wave is going to rise. Having observed the conduct of the people these past festivals, we hope the situation will get worse. We are expectant and very angry the toilets.
Should more containment measures have been taken this Christmas?
This issue should be debated by the “experts”, a word that, having seen what we have seen, unfortunately and it is a pity, has lost its true meaning. Our opinion as healthcare professionals is yes. They should have been more restrictive and, above all, punish those who do not comply with the rules very harshly. Seeing those parties that we have seen is devastating for the health community and I would dare to say that for society in general that complies with what is recommended. You have to restrict more and better. We must remember that people continue to die, that it is not a joke, and many patients are left with very serious health consequences that, by the way, are not seen or talked about.
As a Primary Care physician, he is in direct contact with the patient, on the front line. Is there a staff shortage?
Yes. It is a chronic problem that we have been denouncing for years, unfortunately without a response from the Ministry of Health that receives us but then “if I have seen you, I do not remember.” Everything that nobody wants or can do is thrown at us and without an increase in human or technical resources. Agendas of 50 patients or more, endless days, tracking of contagions and contacts (many and increasing), request for tests, urgent care, at home, in person, by telephone, with delays of more than two weeks for appointments, very long-term cancellations without covering, bureaucracy to give and take … Everything, with non-existent technical means that lead us to buy headphones and other utensils that the Ministry promised us and have not arrived. The word that sums it up is hopelessness; or disappointment; or boredom.
Are you experiencing this pandemic with a lot of stress?
Overexertion, emotional exhaustion and stress, is what we health workers are suffering after these difficult months. We carry out, in some services, up to seven and eight guards a month, with uncertainty about what is coming our way, with hopelessness and anger at the performance of the population that we see continuously, out of personal fear of catching ourselves and our own. , out of disappointment at the lack of action by policy makers or out of anger at images of those responsible who should set an example and gather at mass meals and walk around without masks. All of this forms a personal situation that can erupt at any moment. Many colleagues cannot take any more and the number of withdrawals and requests for early retirement is increasing.
Is the arrival of the expected vaccine being as expected?
It has arrived with disorder and without clear orders. We knew it would be like this. Administering millions of vaccines in a relatively short time due to the immediacy required is a huge challenge, especially for Primary Care teams, which are not prepared to carry it out. Nobody knows what, how, who, with what we are going to carry out this vaccination campaign. Important logistics are required that are not yet designed. And that, despite the fact that from the Primary Care forum of the Valencian Community and the Medical Union we have made ourselves available to the Department and have given logical, sensible and operational ideas to do so: no one has answered us. Vaccination of health personnel has already begun, but without a clear schedule known to all.
Do you recommend whoever is offered the vaccination let him do it?
Undoubtedly. The medical advice is unequivocal: you have to get vaccinated. Similarly, we also require post-vaccination pharmacovigilance to monitor its effectiveness, such as that carried out with other types of drugs and vaccines.
Medical professionals, do you feel supported in these tough times by the health authorities?
Sorry to say, but no. Our perception is twofold. On the one hand, feeling of lack of coordination on the part of the health authorities: they have been improvising to see what happened, to see how things were done, without clear and written instructions on the procedures to follow. And on the other hand, of abandonment: we health workers have once again become the one who, with immense effort, undoubted vocation and maximum responsibility, we have carried and are taking this issue forward. The professionals, not the politicians.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.