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"Beyond anything we could imagine"

“Beyond anything we could imagine”

“It’s beyond anything we could imagine.” In the emergency room of CHU de Guadeloupe, a saturated intensive care unit bears the brunt of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 epidemic sweeping the French Antilles.

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The situation is unprecedented in its scale, it is beyond anything we could imagine. We should redouble our efforts to open additional intensive care beds,” notes Mark Vallett, chief of the intensive care unit at Point-a-Peter Hospital.

In normal times, the number of beds in packages in the territory does not reach 30. “We already have 67 open beds, 55 beds in the CHU, and 12 in the Basse-Terre Hospital Center,” details Marc Valette, who adds: “Of the 55 We’ve got 44 COVID patients, they’re all full, and we’re in the saturation phase.”

In other words, to get one person into intensive care, another person has to be discharged. Either because he’s better, or because he’s unfortunately dying,” said the department head calmly.

In the week of August 2-8, 14 people died of COVID in Guadeloupe. At Pointe-à-Pitre University Hospital, where we have begun to prioritize patients, we are already expecting up to 15 deaths per day, sometimes among patients who will not have time to treat.

“Currently, there are patients who are deserving, who have to be in intensive care beds and who are managed in the hospital, but outside the saturated intensive care units,” Marc Vallett emphasizes.

The vast majority of people in hospital are not vaccinated. Just over 20% of the Caribbean island is.

With an incidence rate approaching 2,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a level unprecedented in France, Guadeloupe began strict containment measures on Friday to limit pollution.

Meanwhile, the emergency room where COVID-19 patients are received is crowded. “We had 47 cases when we got care at 6 p.m. and we actually admitted 4 to 5 patients,” explains Hubert Fast, an intern in gastroenterology, on Wednesday evening, for a night call in the case of the coronavirus emergency.

“We will try to limit the number of patients here at the same time, but we don’t control arrivals,” he adds.

Patients who wait often, curl up in a stretcher or wheelchair, cough painfully.

“We are approaching 70-80 admissions to the emergency room per day,” notes Aurélie Beral, an emergency physician active in the removal zone, a kind of in-between emergency and hospitalization in medicine or intensive care, where urgent care is provided.

The room is designed to accommodate four patients. “We have five already on Wednesday night,” Aurelie Berale said. “Two others are awaiting care in the emergency room as we perform a sham strangulation removal.”

These two patients, who had already been put on oxygen, would only be able to enter the room if those present had actually left it.

Except that CHU packed.

“We are being forced to completely reorganize the hospital, and I have to shut down services to replace it with Covid units,” says Gérard Cotillon, CHU’s general manager.

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The operating rooms will be expanded in the coming days for a recovery family. “Then, as Marc Vallet explains, the hospital will have reached its maximum capacity, in terms of beds, as well as in terms of oxygen.”

As well as in terms of staff. Because reinforcements arrived Tuesday evening from the capital, they will be deployed to the new open beds, and not to the areas that are already operating.

“That’s fine, but it won’t necessarily relieve us any more because we’re opening extra beds,” says Cecile Babolal, an intensive care nurse.