Catamarca is going through its worst weeks since the pandemic began. The increase in beds, the decision to install test nodes and compliance with the measures decreed by the national government, have made it possible to begin to mitigate the impact of the second wave that already reaps 186 deaths, according to the latest report in the province.
The outlook can be bleak if it focuses only on clandestine parties and the lack of compliance, however, souls like those of the health personnel who officiate a total dedication to the service of the community, are a glimpse of light in this fight.
Catamarca/12 reflected in his report yesterday the experience of Eric Reales, Head of the Nursing Service of the Carlos Malbrán Hospital, and of relatives of those who died from the virus, who bravely and with great empathy expressed their pain as a way of raising awareness about the consequences of the disease.
Verónica Agüero is a doctor at the Ministry of Health and attends to post-covid patients. Without a doubt one of those souls that today are needed and appreciated.
-When did you start working specifically with covid pathology?
-We start from the moment the presidential decree of preventive and mandatory isolation comes out back in March 2020 when the pandemic begins.
– At that time there was talk of a pathology that landed in the world about which they did not have much information. How do you begin to work and specialize in the subject?
-It was reading a lot, it was exchanging information perhaps with other colleagues. Those of us who had the possibility to do it with colleagues who are in other countries, it worked. It added up, to see journalistic reports, since in other countries the virus attacked in another way. At that time, Catamarca did not have cases, but until July when we began to have them, and the beginning was with an office. At that time the information was that if he had a fever or a sore throat it could be covid, they were the only two symptoms that at that time had clinical significance. At that time we focused on prevention such as hand washing, the use of alcohol and the chinstrap. So far it was the information that surrounded, I think that many professionals also used the internet to internalize a little more, try to get to know the virus that I even think that today we do not finish knowing it, so that was the way we started with this.
-When does the situation begin to take on a different nuance, that is, of those first symptoms?
-Well, we started with an office where the doctor on duty and two nurses were, the number of patients who came to the consultation began to increase, because it had been established that the only place for the covid area was the San Juan Hospital, until the inauguration Malbrán Monovalent Hospital which was intended to be specifically dedicated to covid pathologies. On the other hand, the SAME who did the tests, the epidemiological blockades together with the people from the COE, and that’s how we started. Then other types of symptoms begin to appear, other types of presentations, headache, loss of taste, loss of smell, cough and then gastrointestinal symptoms were added.. Before, we in the respiratory area did not treat patients with abdominal-related pathologies, until we began to realize and even receive information that the covid also had a presentation as gastroenteritis, diarrhea and vomiting accompanied by dehydration with its complications later if the patient was late in attending the consultation.
-This progressed in such a way that today the covid area of San Juan is the second provincial center of attention to covid patients.
– So it was, we started with a very small number of beds and today we are reaching 80 beds, where the patient is contained, admitted and this is what is striking about this last stage: the need for hospitalization. Although the EOC is always emphasizing care, because there is no other way to prevent this, and the number of doses that have been applied, although we are sure on the one hand because comorbidity should decrease, cases increased, which is not to say that things have been done wrong, but that out there people have not taken the real conscience of what this means.
-Why do you think this could be?
-Perhaps because it has not touched him closely or because he does not believe in the aggressiveness of the virus or for some personal matter, everyone knows what to do. I believe that neither Health nor Safety should walk behind a person to ask them to take care of themselves or to take care of them like a child so that they use the chinstrap and take care of themselves. If we know that elderly people, our grandparents or our children live with us in our homes, we must take care of them, because not only the outsiders suffer this.
-How do you live this in this duality of being a professional, but also a mother, father, daughter or son?
–We as professionals We have the same fear that a person lives outside because we also have children, parents and we have to return to our home. We do not know if we return, because we do not know if we catch it. In my particular case I got covid and passed it on to my son And then that is latent and of course it greatly affects the contagion of your loved ones. My son and I had to spend a Christmas and a New Year perhaps worse than the rest, because we were isolated and alone. With this I want to tell you that beyond the professional, we are human beings with a life, and that anguish is always, the fact of going beyond, that one gives everything, because we are not obliged to go, we do it by vocation; because we prepare for this. We do it because behind the scientific we have a human part that motivates us to be at the foot.
-What is a guard like, in your case, one night in the covid area of San Juan?
– I particularly, of the seven days of the week, I am five nights there. At this moment, of course, things have changed, the increase in the number of positive cases is publicly known, therefore we receive a lot of people. Perhaps before, in a stage prior to this, we could take a break that we don’t have now because people come. People need us, and because we try to provide our care and our support. It is not easy for patients to enter there and I do not think it is easy to enter the Malbrán either.
-What does it mean to enter a hospital for covid?
-Those who enter leave their family and their affections behind a door, and that’s how difficult that loneliness. It is not having someone to talk to, someone to hold your hand, or someone to help you maybe even to go to the bathroom. But it is not because the nurses or doctors cannot help them, but it is because we are so overwhelmed that sometimes we cannot or we have felt collapsed at some point: I say collapsed because of the number of people, not because we do not have the necessary means to get out go ahead.
-What happens when a patient dies?
-That’s the ugly part. Not to mention. It particularly affects me a lot because I have lived experiences that mobilize. During the night, when the rest sleep, having to assist a patient in a borderline situation to the point of losing him, leaves me very beaten and I have to channel it elsewhere to be able to continue, because it is like crying. Dry your tears and get ahead because you must put on your best face, since there are patients who need you, who need your smile, your energy and your strength.
-Is entering a guard every night is knowing that you can meet with death?
-Exactly so. I don’t know if this will happen to other colleagues, but it’s like we perceive it, many times in our eyes, beyond the clinical picture, and we try to be there, and we do and give everything. All teams are prepared to do and give their all, because a word of encouragement is sorely needed. We have to be prepared both to accompany the person at that moment and the family member later.
-How far is it accompanied?
-And … that is where we must draw all our strength, because sometimes when we have already done everything scientifically possible, when you already know that there is nothing to do, many times I or the nurses hold the patient’s hand until their vital functions cease.
-Yes. There are also other situations that move you very much, beyond the fact that in my case I have already been in this profession for 23 years and that I love her more and more; and it is that a patient before being intubated asks you: “Doctor, don’t let me die.”