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With the Omicron variant, the intensive care unit at Delafontaine hospital fears it will run out of arms

The surge of the Omicron variant is felt. At the Delafontaine hospital in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), concerns are growing. Of the 18 beds in the intensive care unit, half, and soon more, are occupied by Covid-19 patients. “The average age is 49 years”, specifies Daniel Silva, head of the service, whose youngest patient is 34 years old.

The service, “saturated since the beginning of October”, had risen to 32 beds at the peak of the first wave of the epidemic in 2020. In the brand new corridors the rooms follow one another and, through the glass doors, the faces often shrouded in patients.

208,000 cases in 24 hours

In recent days, the Covid-19 contamination figures have exploded in France to reach records. The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, announced Wednesday some 208,000 cases recorded in 24 hours, a “tidal wave” fueled by the variant Omicron.

Beyond the increasing pressure exerted on the service, which can no longer take care of patients with Covid-19 brought by the Samu, the fear today mainly relates to a staff exhausted by the successive waves of the pandemic. Of the hundred or so caregivers at the establishment, two are on sick leave. Valuable personnel whose head of department fears to be deprived because of the surge of the Omicron variant.

“Heroes, plagued then forgotten”

“The peculiarity of this fifth wave is that these are teams that are today throwing their last strength to treat mostly patients that we could not have had if they had been vaccinated,” said Yohann. Mourier, deputy director of the Saint-Denis hospital center.

“The caregivers were the heroes of the first wave, the plague victims during the vaccination and now somewhat forgotten,” he laments. The department head and the deputy director recount the numerous departures of caregivers, from the second wave: search for a position far from pressure in the Ile-de-France region or a 180-degree professional turn, citing nurses who have become pastry chefs or beauticians.

Managing the Covid … and all the rest

“The particular fear is that we do not have enough staff to continue doing what we had more or less managed to do in 2021. That is to say to take charge of both Covid patients and non-Covid patients, especially in the most urgent situations ”, regrets Yohann Mourier.

“Very marked by the first wave”, where his “life was here”, Franck Palmier, nursing assistant for thirty-two years in intensive care at the hospital of Saint-Denis, held up to all the deaths, in particular thanks to solidarity between colleagues. Change job ? “I could have, but as I am one year from retirement…”, confides the sixty-year-old.

The shock for the youngest

For younger caregivers, the reality has been violent. In July 2019, at the end of school, Cécile Le Corvic had “chosen resuscitation because it is a complete care, with an immense panel of pathologies, which has repercussions on the care and the technicality”. “I only experienced a sheave without Covid for a few months …” laments this 25-year-old nurse.

After almost two years of a pandemic which “was sudden”, the young woman decided to “leave the sheave”. “I am leaving in March, I will be on standby for a year,” she said, not knowing in which department she would like to be reinstated on her return.


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