Coming for 15 days as part of the call for national solidarity to help the West Indies, Jean-François Bouet landed in Fort-de-France on Tuesday evening, a week ago, with about sixty other caregivers. “I started Wednesday morning. The horror. I discovered the disaster. I found an emergency department completely saturated, with 60 patients on stretchers,” he describes. And “a team (of caregivers, editor’s note) great, but exhausted”.
This Friday, more than 300 caregivers from France are going to reinforce the #Antilles ✈️ Saturated hospitals, high morality rate, medical teams under pressure … The health situation continues to deteriorate in #Guadeloupe and #Martinique ⤵️➡️📲 🖥 https://t.co/b1zVBaO6UM pic.twitter.com/ShR6eID8W5
Assigned to the advanced medical post, consisting of three tents set up in front of the emergency room to sort out covid patients, “suspicions of covid” and non-covid, he says he “did not experience a situation like that” in Saint- Malo.
“We feel that the hospital structure has vacillated,” he emphasizes. This 53-year-old volunteer found it “normal” to come “to lend a hand.” “60 patients in the emergency room, there is a moment when you feel completely overwhelmed, underwater, and that was it everyday for two or three days, it’s terrible to live (…) it’s like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon, we can’t do it, “he recalls.
“We are not there to teach lessons, to judge or to revolutionize the system, we are there to help”.
“We bring oxygen, but we can’t do much more, there are no beds, the sheaves are taken,” explains the emergency physician. He stops abruptly: a new patient has just arrived, lying on his stomach on a firemen’s stretcher. “This is a serious case, when it arrives on the stomach it’s not good,” he said.
With the paramedics of the Samu, he immediately became active around the man of strong build. “Hello sir, when did the signs (of the disease) start?” He asks the patient, conscious but weakened, and quickly placed on oxygen.
Very quickly, the emergency physician called to request a place inside, and to offer the patient a higher flow of oxygen. “A patient like that, the main thing is the speed of treatment,” he explains.
The stream of ambulances and fire engines bringing in patients is continuous, but less significant than in recent days. “It calmed down. We still have serious covid arriving, the epidemic is not over, but there are less for the moment,” hopes Mr. Bouet.
“It has been three days that we note a stagnation of the entries of suspected covid patients”, confirms the head of the emergency department, Yannick Brouste. He also notes “the drop in telephone calls at the level of the regulation of center 15, which allows us to think that we might be on a plateau. Of course, it is high, but we have the impression that we stabilizes the inputs a bit “.
Monday, Martinique recorded a falling incidence rate, to 928 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, but still 13 additional deaths in 24 hours. According to Mr. Brouste, it is “the confinement effect”, of which phase 2, very strict, has lasted for two weeks. “We hope that it will continue with the decline that goes with it”.
In the emergency room, the corridors, which were overflowing with stretchers and patients, during the visit of the Minister of Health Olivier Véran on August 12, were cleared, only three or four patients are still installed there.
“But the hospital remains saturated, 95% of critical care beds are occupied, like 97% of the beds on the floors,” warns the department head, who, thanks to reinforcements, can still “ensure the continuity of care”. And the staff are “tired, morally and physically”, specifies the head of emergencies.
“It was very hard to see what we saw, it was quite hard”.
Reservists, national solidarity, firefighters, hundreds of reinforcements have come from France in recent weeks. But the president of the local authority, Serge Letchimy, asked for others in a letter to the Prime Minister.