Coronavirus: message from the front lines


Daniele Macchini, a doctor at the Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, damned complacency about coronavirus in a lengthy post on Facebook.

“The war has literally exploded and battles are uninterrupted day and night. But now that need for beds has arrived in all its drama. One after the other the departments that had been emptied fill up at an impressive pace.

“The boards with the names of the patients, of different colours depending on the operating unit, are now all red and instead of surgery you see the diagnosis, which is always the damned same: bilateral interstitial pneumonia.”

“Now, explain to me which flu virus causes such a rapid drama. … And while there are still people who boast of not being afraid by ignoring directions, protesting because their normal routine is ‘temporarily’ put in crisis, the epidemiological disaster is taking place.

“And there are no more surgeons, urologists, orthopedists, we are only doctors who suddenly become part of a single team to face this tsunami that has overwhelmed us.

“Cases are multiplying, we arrive at a rate of 15-20 admissions per day all for the same reason. The results of the swabs now come one after the other: positive, positive, positive. Suddenly the E.R. is collapsing.”

 “I saw the tiredness on faces [of doctors and nurses] that didn’t know what it was despite the already exhausting workloads they had. I saw a solidarity of all of us who never failed to go to our internist colleagues to ask, ‘What can I do for you now?’

“Doctors who move beds and transfer patients, who administer therapies instead of nurses. Nurses with tears in their eyes because we can’t save everyone, and the vital parameters of several patients at the same time reveal an already marked destiny.

“There are no more shifts, no more hours. Social life is suspended for us. We no longer see our families for fear of infecting them. Some of us have already become infected despite the protocols ...

 “So be patient, you can’t go to the theater, museums or the gym. Try to have pity on the myriad of old people you could exterminate,” he said.

“I finish by saying that I really don’t understand this war on panic. The only reason I see is mask shortages, but there’s no mask on sale anymore. We don’t have a lot of studies, but is panic really worse than neglect and carelessness during an epidemic of this sort?”

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge




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