Cristina has been crying for more than 10 minutes. He does it between anger and need. There are days, like this one, that outnumber anyone. It’s 9:45 p.m. and there, sitting on the edge of her bed, she thinks about all those patients who would have liked to spend a little more time. “It is impotence,” says this nurse from Hospital Doce de Octubre. Just came home after one of the toughest turns he remembers, and has hardly been able to disconnect. It is not that he has not done his job well, but that the situation is increasingly overwhelmed. “If I used to serve five people an hour, now I serve twice as much. You do it with the same love, of course, but tension and haste also work against us” The COVID-19 crisis It is wreaking havoc in most of the hospitals in the Community of Madrid, saturating emergencies and exhausting resources. What added to the fear of the positive cases and the uneasiness of the suspects, has transformed these centers into real battlefields against the coronavirus.
“I am exhausted, but I know that my work serves to help people who are having a very hard time. That is why it is so worth it. Especially when people thank you for the company and affection. Any small gesture encourages us to move forward, “says this young woman with hope. Even if the panorama is increasingly bleak. “We need to buy time to prepare our health system better, “stressed the Prime Minister last Saturday in his appearance from the Palacio de la Moncloa.” The worst is yet to come. There are very hard days left. ” Cristina is barely in her thirties and has never experienced anything like it. Sometimes, it even equates it to a war. “We are here to fight. Let no one doubt that we are going to win ”, he says with claw, as the first applause begins to sound in his neighborhood. As every night, Spain meets at the foot of the balcony to give them that collective hug that, for the moment and for security reasons, can only star at a distance. It resonates very loudly in your room. Follow him closely. Almost without batting an eye. And, of course, emotion takes its place in it, which finds in that gesture the necessary courage to return tomorrow to save lives.
Something that Sara also shares. The last time he heard those cheers, he was putting the medication on one of his patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It had been several hours without stopping, trying to compensate the effort with love. Although, at some point or another, that becomes quite a complicated task. “I was moved to tears. Hearing all that support in the lowest moments makes you reactivate instantly ”, remembers this nurse from the Hospital de La Princesa. She has been here since 2013 and for her it is also the first major health crisis she faces. In fact, The greatest risk of this, which already leaves 28,572 infected and 1,720 fatalities, is that the system collapses.. Although it is true that this has only happened in the emergency departments of the hospitals of Leganés, Vallecas and Coslada, it is also true that everyone is demanding more and more personnel, more resources and more protection materials so as not to exceed the limits. “When they closed my plant to be used for coronavirus cases, they sent me to cover critical services. I have not stepped on them for four years, but we have to shoulder my shoulders. ”
Every morning, before entering, you have to wash your hands thoroughly and put on your personal protective equipment (PPE). It consists of gloves, a waterproof gown, a mask, glasses, a hair cap and a helmet, with the difficulties of wearing them for so many hours. “If you don’t have to make any physical effort, you get along well. Otherwise, you end up busted, ”says Sara. To which there is to add the shortage of instruments. “We can only change gloves between box and box.” The rest they owe keep in the best possible conditions all day. Keep in mind that, in these units, nurses have to enter at least a couple times per shift to monitor each patient, so coordination of staff and optimization of time are key. “Our greatest fear is not contracting the virus, but acting as transmission vehicles and inoculating it to healthy people ”. Including their families. Therefore, upon arriving home, both she and her companions have developed a ritual that, since the Government decreed the state of alarm, they have strictly adhered to.
“As soon as we entered through the door, we took off our clothes and left them in a corner. We shower immediately and wash everything with great caution, “he says. Now, with his family, he will take advantage of the rest of the day to recover some encouragement and emotionally face the blows that the COVID-19 is dealing to more than 9,702 people in Madrid. Only seven kilometers away, it is Teresa who takes over at the Ramón y Cajal Hospital. He does it with confidence and poise. And, why not, with a smile from ear to ear. Well, in the face of challenges of this dimension, anything that conveys affection and positivity is appreciated. “I remember that I was terrified the first day, but later you end up assuming that you have to push forward and try to do your best ”, recognizes this nurse from the Dialysis Unit, where she must take special care. “80 chronic patients pass through our facilities every week, so we cannot risk becoming infected.” Hence, teamwork has become indispensable at this time.
“We are not going to give up”
In most hospitals, this is already the case: nurses Y nursing assistants collaborate and support each other in all procedures. Thus, each time Teresa has to attend to a case, her companions help her dress so that no part of her body is exposed. “If they weren’t, it would be much more complicated,” he says. And she is not without reason: since they must optimize resources, only she will enter the room, where she will remain a good part of the time to carry out all possible tasks. Meanwhile, your assistant will guide you from the outside, controlling your movements and any needs. “This situation, despite all the bad, has brought us closer together.” Especially when the night shift starts and silence takes the lead in corridors where before there was too much hubbub. So, there, any gesture of complicity is essential. Augustine, for example, knows quite a bit about this. He has been working for 25 years with the same tenacity and with the same energy: “Every time I enter the ICU, it seems that I am going to war to fight an invisible enemy that I don’t know anything about.”
There is no night that this nurse from the Gregorio Marañón Hospital does not enter with the same objective that he set out several weeks ago: to beat COVID-19. “Little by little we are learning things from him and the mechanisms we have to face him”, stresses. For example, every time they intubate a patient they place him on his stomach, as they have noticed that this posture improves his pulmonary ventilation. “We are discovering progress along the way. That also allows us to work a little better. ” What does not mean that stress and discomfort, sometimes, also make an appearance. “In my entire career I have never seen anything like this. Not even during 11M. That attack was a massacre, but at least it was not contagious and we did not have to protect ourselves. ” But even so, for Augustine there is also no possible alternative: “We have to do everything in our power to protect the population. We are not going to give up. ” It is 22 hours and a new applause has just begun.