Tiredness and wear and tear are taking its toll on the toilets that have been in the front line of the battle against the virus for twelve months, trying to contain the pandemic from the trenches of the hospitals. Good professional work is the best recipe they have to fight pandemic fatigue in a year that has gone a long way, especially to obtain information about the virus at full speed. The main difference with the initial bars lies in the knowledge that has been acquired. Although there is still a lot of work ahead, the current way of acting has nothing to do with that of twelve months ago, in which uncertainty and fear of the unknown were the general trend.
“We did not decide to ride this roller coaster, we had to do it out of obligation,” says the head of the Internal Medicine service of Vinalopó, Maribel perez soto, before recalling the weeks leading up to March 15 of last year. At the Elche hospital, the guidelines came from the center that his health group manages in the Madrid town of Torrejón de Ardóz. “There they had already been treating infected patients for about twenty days and they were transmitting information to us to prepare our action protocol,” recalls the doctor.
The last weeks of February and the first weeks of March 2020 were marked by frantic meetings in the hospital, in which the coordination between the medical and nursing departments with the Internal Medicine, Preventive Medicine, Emergency, Home Hospitalization and ICU services played a key role. “They were days of a lot of activity, uncertainty and expectations to have everything prepared because we knew that the first cases of Covid-19 would not take long to arrive. Having the information that came to us from Madrid was an advantage, “says the health company Pérez Soto.
Reach the top
From the Internal Medicine service they have the feeling that on March 15 of last year they reached the top of the roller coaster and from there they jumped into the void, fearing to face an unknown virus. That day the first infected patients arrived at the hospital. «The organization and the preliminary study were fundamental, once the first entries appeared, everything was rolled. The previous wait was harder», Says the head of the hospital unit. In their service, the coordination between all hospital workers, from doctors to cleaners, through nurses, assistants or technicians, stands out as another key.
One of the biggest fears that hospital workers had in the first weeks of the pandemic it was to know how to put on the PPE suits correctly to guarantee their safety. Before the first cases arrived at Vinalopó, they were doing tests with the professionals of Preventive Medicine. “Until day zero arrived and we dressed to perform without the fear disappearing. We went as a couple so that one would always watch that everything went well », says Pérez Soto.
After going through the hardest moments, with crowded plants, the hospital is now preparing to enter a new phase of normality. That does not make the hardest moments of the last twelve months be forgotten and that the current wear must be added the risk of a fourth wave that prevents, as of today, the Easter holidays can be guaranteed for health personnel. This is how Dr. Pérez Soto recalls the stages in which the staff’s spirits were lower: «The hardest thing has been how the moments have happened when it seemed that the light was glimpsed at the end of the tunnel, as in the second wave, with very large spikes in infections, like the one that happened after Christmas.
Among the stages of greatest emotional harshness, the health workers point out as one of the worst that of the first confinement, in which the feeling of isolation and loneliness was enormous, away from their families due to the risk of contagion, with a Monday workload to Friday almost unbearable and a few weekends that had to be dedicated to meetings in which to update the action protocols. “We knew when we started to work but there was no departure time. If we had finished for the applause at eight o’clock we would already find ourselves with a song in the teeth. The recognition of the population was gratifying but fatigue could with everything “, they point out from the Internal Medicine service, in which, a year after treating the first cases of covid-19 in Elche, fatigue takes its toll.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.