Coronavirus, the doctors of Bergamo: “It is the Ebola of the rich. Here the epidemic is out of control, the older patients die in solitude”

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Coronavirus is “the Ebola of the rich” and the “catastrophe that is overwhelming the rich Lombardy it could happen anywhere. ” These are the words written in black and white by thirteen hospital doctors Pope John XXIII of Bergamo, in a letter published on New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery. For many days now, the Orobic capital has been the city most affected by the infection. The letter, published under the title “In the epicenter of Covid-19“Is a story and a sort of warning at the same time.

“The Ebola of the rich”, as the Bergamo doctors define it “it requires a coordinated and transnational effort. It is not particularly lethal, but it is very contagious. The more medicalized and centralized society is, the more the virus spreads. The catastrophe that is overwhelming the rich Lombardy could occur everywhere, “write the white coats, telling the dramatic situation they are experiencing. “In Bergamo – they continue – the epidemic is out of control. Our hospital is highly contaminated and we are already beyond the point of collapse: 300 out of 900 beds are occupied by Covid patients-19. More than 70% of intensive care places are reserved for Covid-19 severely ill patients who have a reasonable hope of surviving. ”

The doctors tell the context in which they operate: “We work at the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, a cutting-edge facility with 48 intensive care places. Although Bergamo is a relatively small city, it is the epicenter of the epidemic, more than Milan, “they write. “The situation is so serious – they continue – that we are forced to operate below our standards of care. Waiting times for an ICU post last hours. THE older patients are not revived and die in solitude without even the comfort of appropriate palliative care. We are in quarantine from March 10 “.

So the letter becomes a sort of reportage from the reanimation ward: “We are learning that hospitals can be the main transmission vehicles of the Covid-19 – they continue – as they fill up faster and faster infected patients who infect uninfected patients. The same regional health system contributes to the spread of the infection, because ambulances and healthcare workers quickly become gods carriers. Healthcare workers are asymptomatic carriers of the disease or sick without any surveillance. Some they risk dying, including the younger ones, further increasing the difficulties and stress of those in the front line “.

The 13 doctors continue their letter story: “This epidemic is not a phenomenon that only affects intensive care, it is one health and humanitarian crisis. We urgently need humanitarian agencies that operate locally. ” But above all, “we need a long-term plan to tackle the pandemic“. This disaster – they continue – “could only be avoided with a massive deployment of community services in the area. To address the pandemic, solutions are needed for the entire population, not just for hospitals. ” The white coats in the front line against the coronavirus emergency, suggest: “Home care and mobile clinics avoid unnecessary travel and ease the pressure on hospitals. It is necessary to create a capillary surveillance system that guarantees adequate isolation of patients by relying on telemedicine tools. Such an approach would limit hospitalization to a targeted group of seriously ill patients, decreasing the infection, protecting patients and healthcare workers and minimizing the consumption of protective equipment. ” In hospitals, they reiterate, “it must be given priority to the protection of medical personnel. No compromises can be made on protocols. The measures to prevent contagion must be implemented consistently “.


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