The pediatric emergencies of the Toulouse University Hospital are facing an influx of small patients suffering from respiratory diseases or gastroenteritis. “A situation eight weeks earlier than expected”, according to Isabelle Claudet, head of the service.
In recent days, the pediatric emergencies of the Toulouse University Hospital have experienced an influx of young patients …
We have a lot of respiratory diseases, and gastroenteritis, which proves that the population has given up and no longer wash their hands regularly. During the Covid period, there were hardly any cases of gastroenteritis, which proves that washing your hands works. It is a national observation, it is not specific to Toulouse. And this is something that was expected: for a year and a half, barrier gestures and wearing a mask limited the transmission of viruses to children under two years of age. They are therefore much more likely to be ill. But we didn’t expect that to happen now: about eight weeks earlier. Currently our activity is around 35% higher than usual, excluding the Covid year.
Are some situations serious?
Children are taken care of in the removal unit every day, it is the equivalent of the resuscitation room in an emergency department. We receive between two and six children. Usually it’s between zero and four. At the end of the day or at night, the service is full.
How do you deal with this influx?
We have a graduation procedure for reinforcements, but at the moment, it’s complicated in recruiting: the Covid has blunted the motivations of doctors and nurses. People are afraid to end up in hospitals with tension for twelve weeks.
Are recruitments becoming rarer?
It is a national observation: the Covid hurt the hospital, which was already tired. The professionals held on but we are seeing the consequences. Now that young graduates are entering the profession, they are less inclined to come to the hospital. Without recruitments, we cannot open additional beds. In some places, the beds are closed due to a lack of personnel when there is a high level of activity.
What advice would you give to parents?
The advice is not to take children under six months old, and especially under three months old, in places where there is a lot of traffic such as shopping centers. And that the siblings do not embrace the little ones. When a child has a fever, we can also wait before going to the emergency room, or consult their doctor instead.
Do you think the situation will improve?
This is an unprecedented situation and we do not know whether this situation will last ten weeks and then settle down, or last until the February holidays. If this continues, the situation will be even worse in two weeks when the school year begins. But it is not excluded that we have a very high activity during the holidays, it is the case at the beginning of the week, on 200 passages per day. For the moment it is not decreasing.
The CGT alert
“Every day, we get cracking agents. Last year, the number of resignations was three times greater than the previous year. One day, it will turn into a disaster, that’s what is happening! Pauline Salingue, specialist educator at the CHU and CGT delegate, does not have enough harsh words to describe the current situation. His concern relates in particular to the children’s hospital, which is experiencing “many recruitment difficulties”. The union indicates that it files a procedure of “serious and imminent danger” in the week for the announcement of the situation of this hospital.