These days, the vicinity of the La Paz hospital and the Ramon y Cajal hospital – less than a kilometer away – look like others. It is as if it were a holiday: without cars, with hardly any people on the street. There is an unusual sense of calm, as if life had slowed down everywhere; not in hospitals. In there the rhythm changes, it becomes frantic and the masks are ‘trending’. Two weeks ago the flu season ended (prime time emergencies), but the hustle continues: the Covid-19.
“We are at the top,” says Guillen del Barrio, of the Mats union and an emergency worker in La Paz. “The minor pathologies that we attended before, of little relevance, are not coming. People are being responsible. But there are people who do not have coronaviruses and need medical attention. If we add those patients to those who have coronaviruses, they do not fit. ”
On Monday, for example, an emergency box with capacity for 30 people housed 62. On Tuesday, 73. “10 years ago, the Madrid Health Service had 1,000 more beds, now we miss them “, Del Barrio says, asking for more guards and cleaning staff because the staff of toilets has been reinforced. “They have extended the flu contracts.” The Community of Madrid speaks of 1,658 contracts, 707 extensions of the Winter plan and 951 specific for the coronavirus.
All of them see these days how many Spanish companies empty themselves while the hospitals fill up. Not only do they not have the option of teleworking, they overwork. “The hospital is performing more than normal. We are saturated and there is concern, not so much for infecting ourselves but for family members, although, at the moment, no nurse on my team has fallen ill. ”
In the Gregorio Maranon the situation is different. There, 50 professionals remained at home yesterday waiting for results; 10 of them tested positive. “There is concern,” explains a worker at the center to 20 minutes, “especially since the protection criteria that they give us vary every day. Before, you had to maintain a distance of one meter, now one and a half meters. ”
This idea is reinforced by a nurse from the Ramon y Cajal hospital. “Every day they change the protocol. One day masks are necessary and now with the green ones it is worth it, when before they said no. Also, before they advised to use two masks per turn and now one. We do not see clarity in the high command. I don’t know if it is lack of foresight or that it is beating them. ” For him, however, the biggest problem is the lack of protective equipment of the professionals themselves (hats, glasses, gloves, masks …). “They told us there was and the reality is that there is very little.”
Another worker at the center also shares that concern. “The material is locked in the emergency room and we don’t have masks. If we want one, we have to ask the supervisor. They rationalize the material as much as they can.” Hospital sources assure that masks have become more expensive 1,300%, since a unit has gone from costing 50 cents to 7 euros.
In the Ramon y Cajal ICU, where this Wednesday there were five people with coronavirus in addition to two children, the situation is even more worrying, as the material is constantly disposed of. “We are very fair protective equipment, especially in the pediatric, where there is a shortage“She sums up these days like this:” A lot of saturation, a lot of stress, a lot of work, patients don’t stop coming. “And her companion stresses:” We work piece by piece. We are no longer in contention, this has broken out. ”
This Wednesday, Fernando Simon, director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, supported the health workers and recognized that Madrid hospitals are “very saturated” and that the staff is “under very significant stress”, although he clarified that ” the care burden “depends a lot on the centers. For this reason, the Community values alternatives such as movement of patients to other hospitals. Simon also pointed out that the pressure on the Madrid health system is given by the characteristics of his patients, since a very important group are elderly people, population at risk.
Dr. Arribas, head of infectious diseases in La Paz, joined the nurses’ demands on Twitter and warned: “We are running out of protective equipment. We can run out of ICU beds. The response must be a national priority. Please retuit. “