hospital emergency rooms are full, caregivers are exhausted

While the Covid-19 epidemic remains very present in France, those of gastroenteritis and influenza are making their comeback everywhere, aggravating the crisis in hospitals, already acute after two years of health crisis. Here is the update on the situation, this Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

On Monday April 11, 2022, the health authorities warned of the increase in the number of hospitalizations linked to the Covid-19 epidemic, going back above the 24,000 mark for the first time since the beginning of March. With 2,099 new admissions, hospitals now welcome 24,205 Covid patients, compared to 22,835 a week earlier, and 20,532 on March 26.

Below, the incidence rate by department for the period from April 2 to April 8:

The return of the flu

Added to this increase in hospitalizations is the rebound in the epidemics of gastroenteritis and influenza. The weekly report from Public Health France, published on Wednesday April 6, reported an increase in flu cases in nine regions: “Influenza indicators were still on the rise in mainland France, although the increase was less marked compared to the previous four weeks”says the public health agency.

The evolution of the epidemic remained stable in four other regions.

The flu epidemic is late this year, possibly due to lower herd immunity. Indeed, the French had been less infected than usual in the winter of 2020-2021, thanks to anti-Covid containment measures.

The easing of these measures in recent weeks has most likely favored the spread of these epidemics

Hospitals “on the brink of agony”

Other factors add to this level of tension. “The shortage of emergency doctors and pediatricians in particular, the difficulties in recruiting replacement doctors, the vacancies due to the difficulties in recruiting nursing staff”, lists the management of the departmental hospital center of Vendée, which had to trigger its white plan, on Friday April 8.

Saturday April 9, 2022, the CFDT of Côtes-d’Armor hospitals also sounded the alarm. “The hospitals of the Territory Hospital Group (GHT) of Armor are on the verge of agony”.

There is currently a shortage of 240 nurses and caregivers in Guingamp, Lannion-Trestel, Paimpol, Quintin, Lamballe, Saint-Brieuc and Tréguier.

410 agents are currently on sick leave at the Yves-Le Foll hospital in Saint-Brieuc, or 12% of the workforce. The Briochin hospital already announced, Thursday, April 7 the deprogramming of all non-emergency interventions.

Emergency services forced to close

And they are not the only ones in France. Everywhere, hospitals and emergency services are facing a high level of tension.

Since Friday April 8, 2022, the emergency department of Bayeux hospital (Calvados) has been forced to close at night due to lack of staff. Same thing in a private hospital in Le Havre, which had to close its emergency department for 24 hours, from Sunday April 10 to Monday April 11.

In Sarthe, the same story: all health establishments have to juggle the lack of nursing staff and the increase in admissions.

The Le Mans hospital center is facing peaks in attendance, with 250 visits to the emergency room per day, compared to 180 in normal times. And 150 for pediatric emergencies, compared to 110 in normal times.

Caregivers under pressure and exhausted

To cope, the Le Mans hospital had to deprogram part of the surgery and temporarily opened ten beds in vacant premises, relying on volunteer staff who are accumulating overtime.

Faced with such pressure, establishments rely on solidarity. Thus, caregivers based in Nantes or Chartres, members of the national reserve, came to lend them a hand.

On Thursday April 7, the Alençon hospital was already alerting to his situation. “We are more and more affected. Today, we have about 15% absentee among caregivers, even 20% for nurses ”detailed Ninon Gautier, deputy director of the hospital. Faced with this lack of staff and the influx of patients, several departments of the hospital find themselves saturated, in particular that of emergencies.

Author of the book In the hell of the hospitalpublished by Robert Laffont editions, medical intern Léonard Corti confided on Tuesday April 5 on France info : “A number of our colleagues, in particular the interns, were on edge, because we had to hold on, working 90 hours a week, doing call duty every two or three days. […] now they are beginning to decompensate for all that fatigue accumulated over two years. »

“Today, there are more and more burnouts, burnouts, anxiety disorders”insists Léonard Corti, also president of the Union of Paris Hospital Interns.

Gastro, flu, Covid-19: hospital emergencies are saturated, caregivers are exhausted

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