The case was described as “abject” by the Minister of Housing, Julien Denormandie. A resuscitation nurse from the Montpellier CHU said that she was forced to leave her accommodation with her family this week, a ground floor rented in a village near the city of Hérault. According to his testimony published in the Montpellier Gazette, the owners, an elderly couple living in the apartment above, feared they would be infected with the coronavirus. They pushed her and her family to leave, notably cutting off the heating and hot water.
After several days of conflict, Mélina F. ended up moving and found accommodation close to her workplace thanks to the free platform set up by Airbnb. But she also filed a complaint. A preliminary investigation was opened Thursday, April 2 and entrusted to the gendarmerie by the prosecution “In order to establish whether the conditions under which this person was forced to leave his home were likely to receive one or more criminal qualifications”, according to a press release from the Montpellier prosecutor.
This case, as extreme as it is in its script, illustrates a situation experienced by other caregivers in this pandemic period where mistrust is heightened as much as solidarity. Applauded and considered by heroes, the “front line fighters” are also seen as a threat by some because of their real or supposed contact with patients of the Covid-19. And a minority do not hesitate to let them know.
“We can see that people are afraid”
Windshields adorned with a degraded caduceus, words left behind the windshield wipers inviting to change your address, anonymous letters slipped into the mailboxes of the unwanted … Even if they remain rare, the same stories repeat themselves everywhere France. “We can see that people are afraid and that this period also brings out the darker side of the human being”, comments Maryline Pecnard, treasurer of the Order of Nurses in the Center-Val-de-Loire region.
For her who volunteered to strengthen the services of a hospital, the situation experienced by her colleague from Montpellier is “Dramatic” and “Implausible”, while healthcare professionals are taking extra precautions to protect themselves and others. “We know what we are doing, we are very vigilant”, she insists. She herself says that she is not afraid of a potentially hostile reaction to her engagement: “It all seems so crazy to me …”
The pressure of a frightened neighborhood does not only concern hospital staff. “There are not that many, but testimonies of this kind go back to us as directly, confirms Catherine Kirnidis, President of the National Union of Liberal Nurses. We also had the case of a knife threat to steal an endowment in masks. “
People who refuse home visits
At the same time, some people, whose situation calls for regular home care, openly ask the caregivers not to come home anymore, always for fear of being infected. “We all have one or two patients like that on our tours”, resumes the union official, who can understand the fear of “These fragile people”, but is indignant, on the other hand, for the reaction of the most indelicate fellow citizens.
For its part, the National Order of Nurses has launched a survey within the profession to try to measure the importance of the phenomenon. The results are expected next week. The organization also encourages those who have been victims of malicious behavior to file a complaint and stands ready to file a civil action. “Nurses should not be left alone in the face of such acts”says Maryline Pecnard.