As Omicron Expels, a French Hospital is hampered by Staff Shortages
PARIS (Reuters) Paris (Reuters) Abigael Debit the emergency ward doctor is now searching for beds for COVID-19 victims in her private clinic outside Paris or in nearby hospitals as the infectious Omicron variant sweeps through France.
Although Omicron has a lower risk of suffering from severe illness than the Delta variant, research suggests that the high number of infections in France means that France’s healthcare system is still under strain.
Medical staff are tired and there is a shortage of staff. This is due to resignations and an increase in the in nurses and doctors being forced to contract and taking sick leave. Patients are being transferred to different wards as a result of a large demand.
Debit reported that there are less beds in the Intensive Care ward and fewer beds in the COVID ward compared to the first wave.
Her unit receives urgent patients who need in-patient care. Ten of the 13 beds she oversees are occupied by COVID-19 patients. The COVID ward in her hospital’s 29 beds is filled to capacity. Some 80% of the patients there are unvaccinated.
France reported a record 368,149 nL8N2TR424 cases on Tuesday. The number of COVID-19 patients needing hospitalization is close to an 8-month record, but a revolving door of staff is making it more difficult to provide treatment.
“There are employees on sick-leave. And there have been resignations…during the various COVID waves, so there is a real weariness,” Debit said.
Her hospital had to reduce its ICU beds from 13 when the epidemic began. The hospital now has seven beds.
Hundreds of medics protested in Paris on Tuesday over pay and working conditions. The unions say that the outbreak has only intensified a decades-long decline in working conditions at French hospitals.
“COVID is a popular excuse but it’s not the reason staff are exhausted. Staff have been exhausted for many years,” said medical assistant Isabelle Pugliese during the rally.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said it was too early to determine if the Omicron increase had reached its peak in France.
President Emmanuel Macron’s main focus is to get shots in arm and tighten restrictions on the freedoms of those who have not been vaccine-free.
Nicole Legaye, patient, told me that she wishes she could have been vaccinated, but was unable because of severe allergies.
“I’m no anti-vaxxer,” the 70-year-old woman said. “When they said I shouldn’t be vaccinated I had to listen,” she said with a resigned shrug.