We are in the second wave of the pandemic, all ventilators are occupied in every hospital that has potentially been designated to hospitalize COVID-19 patients – said Grażyna Cholewińska-Szymańska, head of the department at the Provincial Infectious Hospital in Warsaw on Radio Zet. She described the current epidemic situation as “pseudo-war”.
The Ministry of Health announced 8,536 new cases of coronavirus infection on Sunday. This is the second highest balance sheet since the start of the pandemic. The ministry also informed about the death of 49 people who were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection. In total, in Poland, the coronavirus was confirmed in 175,766 people, of whom 3,573 died.
“Poland now belongs to countries with very intensive virus transmission”
Grażyna Cholewińska-Szymańska, head of the provincial infectious diseases hospital in Warsaw and provincial consultant in the field of infectious diseases, spoke about the epidemic on Sunday on Radio Zet. – We are in the second wave of the pandemic in Poland. Poland now belongs to the countries with very intensive SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission. (…) All respirators are occupied – she said. When asked if this is the case at the hospital where she works, she replied: – In every hospital that has potentially been designated to hospitalize COVID-19 patients.
– Practically, it is possible to place a patient only if someone is able to leave home, then the next one comes to this bed. Alternatively, in the case of intensive care, sorry to talk about it, but when someone dies, the respirator is only released – she explained.
Are we in danger of the Italian spring scenario? “We are already practicing this in a way”
When asked if she was afraid of a situation like in spring in Italy, when it was necessary to decide who to give oxygen to and who not, the doctor replied that “we are already practicing it”.
– Sometimes one patient is disconnected for two hours, he is moved to another place, and in that place a bed with the patient is replaced, which requires oxygen therapy – she said. She admitted that although it is under control, it is not the correct method, because doctors are responsible for both patients.
“Statistics look beautiful and life looks different”
Cholewińska-Szymańska referred to the information from the Ministry of Health that in Poland there are currently 14,700 beds in hospitals for coronavirus patients and a thousand free respirators. – These are numbers that we cannot believe. Where are they coming from? These are probably the numbers of the beds that I replaced that haven’t started. The statistics look beautiful and life is different, she commented.
“We must do something immediately”
The doctor called for the reopening of unnamed hospitals. – As a provincial consultant, I wrote a letter to the voivode asking for the immediate opening of at least one large hospital in Warsaw, before the weekend, but unfortunately it is not that simple. We must do something immediately, because we can see that there are more and more cases every day and certainly some of these patients will require hospitalization – she pointed out.
She reminded that doctors are currently trying to empty selected departments, such as internal, pulmonary or dermatological departments in some hospitals in some hospitals – based on earlier decisions of voivodes in early October – in order to be able to admit patients with COVID-19 there. – It turned out after two weeks that this system did not work, because there is nowhere to discharge these patients so immediately – she emphasized.
– The implementation of this recommendation has become unrealistic – said Cholewińska-Szymańska, explaining that the difficulties include, inter alia, on the fact that saving the life and health of COVID-19 patients consists in administering oxygen. – So we must have a good oxygen supply in these hospitals and we must have an oxygen bed. The oxygen systems that are built into the walls must be sufficient to provide oxygen therapy in these patients, she explained.
Cholewińska-Szymańska: we are in a pseudo-war state
When asked about the issue of building field hospitals, she described the current epidemic situation as “pseudo-war state”. – It is known that during the war such hospitals are built, some divisions or regiments, and there, in the halls, what can be done. But there’s no proper medical procedure there. This is the last resort. When we really don’t have anything, then we will put people side by side in these halls or tents – she said. “But again, you need oxygen, you need a respirator, you need an anesthesiologist to operate this ventilator, and you need nurses and medical assistants. Where to get them and what is the idea? Because it is the simplest to provide only surfaces, added Dr. Cholewińska-Szymańska.
“We do what we can, but under slightly field conditions”
The head of the hospital said that doctors and other health care workers – just like in spring – need solidarity and social support, also from politicians. “But it has all faded out, has become commonplace and commonplace,” she assessed. She added that the “disrespectful tone of politicians” about doctors is very bad.
– This is not, as politicians say, the reluctance of a doctor who does not want to work. Only this is a truly dramatic situation when a doctor in the emergency room or in the HED has to choose which patient he leaves and which he will send back. And, of course, the fact that he will be admitted to the hospital does not guarantee that he will end up in an oxygen bed. We do what we can, but under slightly field conditions – she said.
“The installation is already failing us”
She added that even old oxygen cylinders that have not been used for 20 years are already being removed. – For example, we try to connect three cables to one oxygen regulator in the wall, the installation is already failing us – she mentioned.
Among the most important problems, she mentioned the lack of staff. – It has been a problem of infectious diseases for a long time – said Cholewińska-Szymańska. She stressed the lack of people to help, such as medical assistants. Another problem – as she pointed out – last year’s stricter regulations, which impose penalties on doctors for medical errors, including non-culpable errors. – It’s just that not every doctor will decide, having a different specialty, to work with a patient with COVID – she said.
Main photo source: Jacek Szydłowski / PAP