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Marseille (AFP) – “Her survival is due to that”: in an intensive care unit in Marseille, a doctor shows a device that oxygenates the blood of a young man suffering from Covid. One of the many hospitalizations that the vaccination could have avoided, hammer overworked caregivers.
“He is an unvaccinated patient because he thinks that at 35, there was no risk”, but “you must not believe that you are not affected by the Covid if you do not has no comorbidity, “insists Professor Lionel Velly, head of the anesthesia-intensive care unit at La Timone.
The largest hospital in south-eastern France is on the front line when the country has recorded a record of contaminations with 332,252 new patients.
On this floor, of the 20 resuscitation beds available, five are still dedicated to “non-Covid” patients.
“Ethically, it is impossible for me to prioritize a Covid in the face of a road accident”, explains the doctor. Equity of access to care is still possible in this large university hospital but that many other hospitals in the region can no longer afford in the face of the 5th wave.
Barely 60% of the population had received two doses there at the end of December, against 77% nationally. Four of the city’s poorest districts were even 30 points below this national average.
Liters of oxygen
In one of the airtight boxes of the intensive care unit, a 60-year-old woman with a tracheotomy is in “respiratory weaning”. Obese, diabetic and hypertensive, “she is a patient who should have been vaccinated, it was not even debatable. It was her general practitioner who told her not to” do it, regrets Professor Velly, also deploring the fear created by “fake news”.
Marie-Josée Bouchet, 66, also surprisingly discouraged by her general practitioner, admits not having been vaccinated for fear in particular of the risk of thrombosis. Suffering from Covid, she is now treated with high-flow oxygen in the internal medicine department.
Setting up massive investments, high-flow oxygen therapy has made it possible to relieve some of the congestion in intensive care. From a maximum of 15 liters of oxygen per minute before the health crisis, the flow can be increased up to 60 liters to help Covid patients breathe.
However, this treatment remains cumbersome, a patient having mentioned upon leaving the impression that a train had passed over him.
In the long corridor of the service, only the screens scattered in front of the closed doors of the rooms bear witness to a trace of life. They only allow three nurses from the unit to remotely monitor the constants of the 24 patients: “It’s a very heavy workload,” insists Patrick Villani, who manages conventional Covid hospitalizations in La Timone.
As in intensive care, where 90% of the 41 patients present are not vaccinated, this internal medicine unit counts “especially people who have never encountered the vaccine in their life, who are under 70 years old, who believe they are immune to it. the Covid “, specifies Robin Arcani, head of clinic.
“No more anguish”
If patients are the first victims of this lack of vaccine protection – more than a third of those who present in intensive care do not survive – the consequences have resulted in the entire hospital where the deprogramming of operations is legion.
“Normally, we operate five or six patients per day. Today, we had planned three and we were able to do only one” for lack of open operating theaters and places for intensive care, notes Frédéric Collart, head of the cardiac surgery department at La Timone.
“We operate on a day-to-day basis, depending on very urgent patients who cannot wait,” he adds.
Among them, Thierry Baranger, 61, arrived Tuesday from Gap, 200 km from Marseille, to be affected by coronary bypass surgery: “This morning, I was told that the operation was deprogrammed, that it may be. be Friday, perhaps, if there is room “.
And to add, the shortness of breath from his hospital bed: “The operation should be done quickly, but we have to wait, so it puts a little more anxiety”.
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