RISK: Caregivers tell of their fears about a second wave of coronavirus which could break out soon across France
- While new Covid-19 contaminations start to rise again in August, many caregivers fear an imminent second wave.
- Some think that the hospital will be able to cope with it, while others are still suffering from their experience of the first wave
- But all deplore the lack of respect for barrier gestures which could precipitate this second wave that they want to avoid at all costs.
Of new infections that are rising again. Hospitalisations on the rise. Resuscitation placements on the rise . This is not a figment of the mind: in the heart of summer, the coronavirus did not take a vacation, and the virus is once again circulating very actively in France. Several cities have made it compulsory to wear a mask in busy public places. Not enough to calm the concern of worried caregivers, who have been calling for the generalisation of the wearing of masks for a while. An appeal heard by the government, which announced this Tuesday the obligation to wear a mask in business from September 1.
Is this action taken on time? Will it be enough to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 in the country? Do caregivers think they can avoid, or endure, a second wave? Do they feel that they are sufficiently prepared, sufficiently equipped? “This second wave will be, for us caregivers, much harder,” said Professor Gilles Pialoux, head of the infectious diseases department at Tenon hospital in Paris, in an interview with L’Express. Applauded every evening during confinement and exposed to the disease in their work, doctors, nurses, nursing assistants or even nursing home facilitators entrust 20 Minutes with this shared fear in the face of a second wave which could surge in the coming weeks.
“I love my job, but I’m worn out…”
The start of the school year has not yet sounded, but Marine already fears an outbreak of the epidemic. “In Lille, some do not wear masks in transport , and no one respects barrier gestures, deplores the young woman, a carer in a nursing home. The fear of a second wave is inevitably present, especially for the already fragile elderly, she insists. Hence the importance of respecting barrier gestures, wearing a mask, disinfecting your hands! “
The first wave, Aurélie, nurse perfusionist, had already taken full force, and feels coming the next. “I manage ECMO, the cardiopulmonary bypass device designed to oxygenate and decarboxylate the blood [remove CO2]. And I’m at a loss physically: we were overwhelmed and had to resort to resourcefulness so that the system does not collapse. We have not been able to release the pressure since the first wave, because in order for some to go on vacation, the others toil and tire even more. Not to mention the stress of catching the virus yourself, of infecting your family, of taking crowded Parisian public transport. To see all these people who applauded us doing anything today, the motivation is no longer there, she confides. I am courageous, I love my job,
A fear shared by Patrick, caregiver and nursing home facilitator, who regrets the unconsciousness of some. “Family reunions, vacations, bar terraces, restaurants, people act like it’s all over. During this time, the residents of nursing homes risk a lot ”.
“Many of us have already experienced the first wave very badly”
But how do you face a second wave when you are a caregiver and you are already struggling to recover from the first? For Caroline, a medical nurse, “a second wave is very likely, all caregivers fear it. The staff are certainly better prepared than in March, but the lack of staff and the organisational problems that result from it are still present, she emphasises. Many of us have already experienced the first wave very badly, between burn-out , physical and emotional fatigue, not to mention all the caregivers who were infected ”.
For many caregivers, the first wave of the Covid-19 epidemic created a trauma, as Michèle, nurse at the hospital recounts: “Manage Covid-19 patients, see some of them leave during the day in a tarpaulin, see colleagues affected by them also and having to replace them at short notice, I was not far from burn-out, she recalls. But we had to hold out, save the patients, fight against death. I was going home and I couldn’t stop crying. So no, I wouldn’t want it to start all over again, although I do fear there will be a second wave. It is the holidays, people do not necessarily respect barrier gestures, especially young people, who seem unaware of the risks they run for themselves, for their loved ones and for the nursing staff ”. If Michèle fears a second wave so much today, it is also because “the teams are exhausted. At home, a lot of nurses have left since the Covid-19, and we are having trouble recruiting. The teams are not complete, we are constantly asked to work overtime to replace colleagues who have left. We don’t even have any privacy anymore! So face a second wave, we could not, ”she believes.
A fear shared by Mathilde, a midwife, who feels “one of the great forgotten ones in the health sector, yet very present during the first wave of Covid. You cannot ask people to sacrifice their lives for the lives of others and despise them that way. The caregivers are not ready for a second wave, they are put lower than earth, exhausted from the first wave, and exasperated by the lack of recognition ”.
“We are ready”, “but we will be less tolerant”
However, despite fatigue and exasperation, the “first on the ropes”, as Emmanuel Macron described them , remain mobilised. “We are ready,” says Loïc, a nurse in the Toulouse region. Indeed, I think that a second wave is preparing, but the hospitals will be better prepared because the first wave allowed us to organise ”. But Loïc is also “annoyed by disrespectful attitudes, by those who applauded to the windows to respect nothing afterwards ”. A carelessness that makes the nurse fear the worst. “I think that this wave will be more deadly than the first, for the simple reason that it will be the consequence of the non-respect of barrier gestures by the population and will thus generate a decrease in the commitment of caregivers already exhausted: we will be less tolerant and will not sacrifice our life for people who do not respect us ”.
Like Loïc, Antoine, public assistance nurse in Paris hospitals who worked in a post-Covid unit, thinks that “ hospitals are better prepared today. During the crisis, we did not know where we were going, but in the event of a second wave, the organisation will be faster and more efficient: human and material needs and the organisation of care are well assessed, and the staff have already been trained. Life in the hospital is the same as before the Covid-19, without a cluster in the hospital. I don’t think there will be a second wave, at least not of the magnitude of the first ”.
” I’m mad “
A confidence shared by Audrey, a healthcare manager in a CHU. “I have no doubts that the health care system will cope with a second wave, if it is to break. Because caregivers will be faithful to the strong values of continuity of care. But it would be with great anger, because people are unable to understand that the collective interest in health comes through individual responsibility. The mask is not a deprivation of liberty , damn it, it’s real protection ! “
An anger that Audrey feels growing inside her every day, “because I had to sacrifice my family life during the first wave, because because of the stupidity of some, I will have no choice but to start over. if necessary. Because we still have to fight against idiots who “forget” to wear their mask when coming to visit relatives already weakened by hospitalisation. And I’m angry with those snarling fools who beat up whoever reminds them of their obligation to wear a mask. All those nights of applause for that? “
“I hope that all those who are not really aware of the gravity of the virus in its most serious form will realize that it can be fatal for all of us, abounds Guillaume, nurse. Young or old, we are all concerned. So protect yourself, and protect us ”.