From “blues” to glimmers of hope, Thérèse Simonnet, resident of an Ehpad in Doubs, survivor of the first wave, “dreamed” for a year of the end of the Covid-19 epidemic, but struggling to see the end of the tunnel despite vaccination.
At 92 years old, this former cleaning lady, wife of a worker, tenderly looks at the photos of her two great-grandchildren: twins, born two months ago. She has come a long way from Thérèse, and the past year could have deprived her of this happiness.
On March 5, 2020, a year ago, the scourge of the coronavirus hit the accommodation establishment for dependent elderly people (Ehpad) Vill’alizé in Thise, with the return of the first positive tests for Covid-19 . The establishment was one of the first to be damaged by this then unrecognized virus.
“With the corona, it is this fatigue that is terrible”, remembers Thérèse Simonnet, who was then affected by the disease and placed on oxygen. “One day, I woke up and I couldn’t speak. I had lost my appetite, my sleep,” continues the lady with white hair and thin glasses who has been using a wheelchair ever since.
But this voluntary and determined nonagenarian survived, then took the measure of the epidemic: “I asked for news from my table, from the people who ate with me, before, and I was told: + Madam one and she is party “, then” + Madam so and so + “. “It breaks my heart. I was sorry and cried a lot.”
– 26 deaths out of 79 residents –
The fight against the epidemic was tough on staff and residents, of whom 26, out of a total of 79, have died. “If the staff had not been there, there would have been a lot more, I take my hat off to them,” says Thérèse.
According to the serological tests which followed, 90% of the residents and employees of this nursing home in the Korian group contracted the disease.
After a long confinement in the room, Ms. Simonnet and her comrades were able to meet again and see their family again, but in small quantities, with a mask, hydroalcoholic gel and distancing. Life has changed in Ehpad.
With a gentle gaze, Thérèse confides her fears and anxiety in the face of this never-ending epidemic: “I am here, I know that it is to leave and see you soon 93 years old I have made my way. But now , it’s sadder than at the beginning “of the epidemic, she sighs. “It’s sad for all these young people because we don’t know how it’s going to go.”
“Sometimes it’s okay, and sometimes we have blues, without warning,” she continues. “Often, so as not to dramatize, I say to myself: + Come on Therese, get over it, it’s like that and then that’s it +”.
Hope returned in January with the start of vaccination in nursing homes. “I said to my son: + The vaccine, I want to do it right away, otherwise we won’t get out of it +”. The old lady is now vaccinated, like 89% of the residents of Vill’alizé.
– “A good frying” –
The families “expected a lot from this vaccine, they hoped to be able to live again normally”, explains the director, Charlotte Euvrard, but there are still many restrictions. “We have time to get back to our former life, but not them”, adds the director, while the average lifespan in nursing homes is “a little over two years”.
“I am sad not to see as much as before my son”, who must always come by appointment, still confides Thérèse Simonnet, letting her gaze slide over the dozens of photos of her family that she now sees mainly on screen interposed.
To these portraits nicely arranged on a small desk in her bedroom, she “talks every day”.
On Friday, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, announced that he wanted to “gradually give back the freedom” to residents of nursing homes, now widely vaccinated, after the Council of State deemed “disproportionate” the ban on exit imposed on them.
A brightening on the horizon for Thérèse Simonnet, who is already thinking of going to taste “a good fried food in this little restaurant” where her son had taken her. With a smile on her lips, she laughs: “You have to dream, otherwise, you won’t live!”.