Hospitals face records of absent caregivers: here are the consequences

This Friday, just over 2,800 patients infected with the coronavirus were hospitalized in Belgium: a figure on the rise. In intensive care units, on the other hand, the beds are empty. They welcomed 364 people on Friday. This does not mean that the pressure is easing in hospitals, as medical staff continue to work in difficult conditions. We visited two hospitals in Charleroi.

In the various intensive care units of the Grand Hôpital de Charleroi, there are 13 patients compared to 59 at the height of the crisis. Rather good figures, but in all services, caregivers must compensate for the absence of part of the staff. There is 10% absenteeism in this establishment in Gilly, a percentage never reached here.

It’s difficult. Every day is complicated. We still have a lot of colleagues who are absent due to covid, and so we still have a few around us, and it’s true that we have to make up for this absence with the staff who remain.“, confides Bénédicte Provenier, nurse in digestive surgery.

We clearly feel that there is a tension that is more palpable

Already exhausted, the nursing staff must again work overtime. This is too much for some and the atmosphere is not always very good. “We clearly feel that there is a tension which is more palpable, and I would say that I intervene more than usual in small conflicts, even if people always remain friendly, etc., but we feel that sometimes they understand less well because everyone has their problems and the problem of the other, they can no longer accept it as before“, indicates Manfredi Ventura, medical director.

Respect the procedures for isolated patients

Hospitalizations linked to the coronavirus also increase this pressure. Sometimes, some patients present for other pathologies but are screened on arrival. “These patients, we must of course isolate them, and therefore we find them everywhere. But we must continue to take precautionary measures, and therefore for the nursing teams in particular it is a heavy workload, since they must assume all the specific defensive gestures and fully equip themselves when they take charge of the patientssays Manfredi Ventura.

Beds removed due to lack of staff

At the Charleroi University Hospital located in Lodelinsart, 20% of intensive care staff are absent. The reception capacity therefore had to be reduced. “We have already had to reduce ten beds. Here lately, because of absenteeism, still four beds. So we are around 35 beds instead of 50“, explains Frédéric Dubois, director of communication at the University Hospital of Charleroi.

The absence of caregivers leads to a permanent reorganization, even the temporary closure of certain units. “Every day there are several calls to report absences, and therefore it forces us to review the day-to-day schedules and completely reorganize the services. In this case for this weekend we are forced to close one of the two maternity units“, says Anicée Stoupy, chief midwife acting in the maternity ward.

To avoid further contamination of patients or staff, many hospitals have therefore chosen to prohibit visits until further notice.

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