In Paris, care for the invisible people of the street

Sitting on a plastic bag filled with clothes, he gazes absently at passers-by, his face impassive. Before him parades the wealthy youth of the 16e arrondissement of Paris, less numerous as the 9 p.m. curfew approaches. Suddenly his eyes light up: he recognized someone. It is Doctor Guy Lessieux, volunteer of the Order of Malta and sponsor of the association’s medical marauding. An initiative launched two months ago, when the health crisis has further weakened the most vulnerable populations of the capital.

“Most of the people we treat have been reported to us by the social marauding of the Order or by the Samu social”, says Laetitia de Kermadec, one of the nurses in this mobile unit which travels every two weeks in a truck. At the back, a small doctor’s office has been set up, with an examination table and drawers filled with everything you need: antiseptics, painkillers, dressings, ointments, syrups, etc. “We have coffee and a few cakes, but unlike traditional marauding, we are first there to provide care”, insists the nurse.

The straight-faced man has a bit of dried blood on his nose, but it’s his hands that are getting in the way. They are shaking, he would like some pills to stop it. “I have no treatment for this, but if you are in pain, I can give you Doliprane”, explains the doctor, before examining his ears.

“He had a serous otitis, but the treatment he was given worked well”, rejoices the retired general practitioner, volunteer for nearly twenty-five years.

Next door, a young man in a black hoodie and cap lifts his pants, revealing red calves. He does not speak French well but pretends to scratch to indicate that he is itching. The doctor puts on his gloves to take a closer look. “It’s eczema, does he diagnose, we’ll give you a cream. “ It will also be necessary to clean his feet, attacked by fungi. “The fact of not washing and wearing the same socks promotes yeast infection, especially when it’s hot and you sweat”, underlines the doctor aside. The feet are a recurring problem when you live on the street. “

It is also that of Zoran, met a little earlier in the evening on the Garigliano bridge, where the Fleuron Saint-Jean is moored, a barge rehabilitated by the Order of Malta as a reception and accommodation center. ’emergency. Of Yugoslav origin, Zoran underwent surgery a few weeks ago for a hallux valgus whose healing is dragging on. “Ah, it’s much better than last time!, comments Dr. Lessieux, while withdrawing “Some lesions” using a scalpel. The patient squinted, it was a bit painful. But his problem is mainly sleep. “At night, I turn in bed, I think too much”, he confides. “We will give you something to sleep on”, reassures the doctor.

In principle, medical raids are not authorized by law. “We do what is called fairground medicine, and it is prohibited by the public health code, recalls Doctor Lessieux. But we have obtained the agreement of the regional health agency and the Order of Physicians, which also allow us to make prescriptions. ” Medication, they are provided free of charge by the International Humanitarian Pharmacy in Nîmes, itself supplied by donations from laboratories.

As night falls, the truck turns in the Louvre sector. The Samu social indicated the presence of an individual at the crossroads of a street, without further details. Is it this very young man, installed on a duvet, in front of the entrance of a store? Yes, it is he. He can be approached easily, agrees to get into the truck. And, lying on the examination table, reveals a sore on his abdomen. ” An accident “, he says only to the nurse, who prepares compresses and antiseptic.

His wound barely disinfected, the young man jumps up and jumps out of the vehicle. “He told us he came from Dijon and gave us a first name”, says Laetitia de Kermadec. The truth ? Basically it doesn’t matter, said the nurse. “What matters is that we can find him so that we can continue to treat him. “

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