Doctors and patients on the edge in the coronavirus unit of a London hospital



Justin Fleming, 47 years old.


© AFP
Justin Fleming, 47 years old.

While recovering from the coronavirus in a London hospital, Justin Fleming says he feared getting fat statistics of the increasing death toll in the UK. Sitting on his bed with a plastic tube supplying oxygen through his nose, this 47-year-old father highlights the “huge” gap that exists “between the public perception of all this and being here oneself.”

In the media “you see the figures, the daily figures, and they are expensive without a name,” he says. “What happens with this virus is that you feel that you disappear”, holds Fleming panting and remembers the fear he felt at not being able to see his loved ones, the fear of being “just a statistic” among the more than 100,000 deaths already registered in the country.

Subjected to a intense pressure from the wave of patients with coronavirus in the country most affected by the pandemic in Europe, the healthcare staff at King’s College Hospital cope with the situation as a team. “We are doing the best we can in very difficult conditions.”, Explain Jenny Towsend, intensive care doctor.

This center, located south of the British capital, had recently experienced a peak in income, with almost 800 patients affected by the virus, although since the introduction of the third confinement in the country at the beginning of the monthIn response to an unstoppable wave of infections attributed to a new strain, the number dropped to 630.

Due to the exponential increase in income from covid-19, the hospital was forced to expand its capacities: the unit in which Towsend works, with a theoretical capacity of 16 patients, receives 30. In normal times, in intensive care a nurse watches over a patient. Currently, each one must care for four sick people.

Despite these exceptional circumstances, which are bringing the healthcare system to the brink of collapse, “We try to do what we normally do, but sometimes, due to the number of patients, we have to prioritize between what we can and what we cannot do”, Explain Towsend. However, With the current vaccination campaign underway, the doctor sees “a light at the end of the tunnel.”

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