In sheave, post-Covid relief and pre-re-entry apprehension

“Relieved” but “still under pressure”, the caregivers of the surgical resuscitation at the Bicêtre Hospital, near Paris, “find their daily life”, the patients of Covid-19 gradually giving way to “the usual patients”.

“Currently, we have six Covid patients”, against 28 at the height of the third wave, explains to AFP Professor Jacques Duranteau, head of the service. “We breathe a little!” after having to deal with Covid and non-Covid emergencies head-on, he says.

The entrance to the surgical intensive care unit is bathed in the light and voice of Lauryn Hill whose “Killing me softly” escapes from a room. A little further on, a patient suffering from cerebral edema is plunged into artificial sleep.

“We are relieved to find our usual patients, which we like to do,” says Mélanie, a nurse in shifts for seven years.

In addition to multiple trauma patients (road or domestic accidents, victims of assault, etc.), cranial traumas, cerebrovascular accidents, the surgical sheave takes care of patients coming out of a complex operation or whose the condition worsens during surgery.

“But we are now facing a very significant wave of departures: the caregivers are tired, bored, or resume their professional project for a time put on hold,” says Mélanie. A situation once again synonymous with overtime, working days off, “days I don’t spend at home”.

“I’ll put a tube in your mouth,” warns the thirty-something before sucking in the saliva of an intubated / ventilated patient. With both feet in plaster, one arm in a sling and a neck brace around his neck, the man broke out of the window. “I’m going to look at your eyes”, continues the young woman in a simple blue outfit, finally rid of the charlottes, FFP2 masks and special Covid protective glasses.

– “Breath of fresh air” –

In severe condition, the patient requires constant check-ups every four hours.

“We love our job, we love our hospital, but we would like to be able to work in good conditions, with trained staff who want to be there”, admits Mélanie, “very happy” to join the nursing school. anesthetists in October, even though she fears having to interrupt her studies and return to intensive care if a new wave of Covid hits her department.

“This decrease in Covid activity gives the teams a little breath of fresh air but that will not be enough”, warns Stéphanie Bonnel, health executive, pointing out “a problem of recognition with the intensive care nursing profession” , which is practiced without specific training or financial recognition.

Especially since the coming months do not promise to be easy. If the decline in Covid patients is “clear” and life-saving, activity will have to be maintained at a “high” level so that patients who have been deprogrammed during successive waves find their way back to the operating theaters. All while ensuring that “the teams can breathe a bit, rest”, adds Jacques Duranteau. A new challenge.

“We are relieved that the service is operating normally, but we are still under pressure and we have not really had a break” between the decline and the resumption of our traditional activity, recognizes Sarah Bruni, nurse of the sheave.

For two and a half years in the service, she waits “impatiently” to go on vacation “to get a change of air”, “to get out of the hospital, from this epidemic”. But with “an apprehension of the return” with the departures of colleagues and the few volunteers to take their place.

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