At Sarreguemines hospital, the psychological after-effects of caregivers after the health crisis

Nathalie * can’t hold back her tears when she talks about it. Nightmares, insomnia, But above all heady images: “At the beginning, I saw the faces of the patients again. Really, the reality, the deformed bodies. And it was difficult to close my eyes, because each time, I saw these bodies again”. A nurse, mobilized for months to treat coronavirus patients, she says: “Life is not the same as before, we are not the same”.

“Deaths several times a day, we are not prepared”

Robert Pax hospital in Sarreguemines was one of the first and one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus epidemic in the spring of this year. A small hospital, not a large CHR or a CHU. 250 beds, and not the best equipped at the start. At the height of the crisis, 171 were occupied by patients with the coronavirus. The epidemic killed more than a hundred there.

At the beginning, I saw the faces of the patients again. Really, the reality, the deformed bodies. And it was complicated to close my eyes, because every time, I saw these bodies again

For caregivers, “It was every day. Several times a day, deaths. We are not trained, we are not prepared, especially here”, explains Nathalie: “Normally, we see the patients’ condition deteriorate. There, they arrived relatively well, we came back two hours later, they were dead”. No family allowed, “they died alone”.

The psych cell closed, “I need it now”

No room available in the morgue, the snappers waiting in line with so many bodies to evacuate: “It’s inhuman what happened. It’s inhuman. And that’s not our job, that”, says the caregiver simply. Several of her colleagues, she said, caregivers or nurses, made the decision to stop the profession when they could financially, following what they had to do during the health crisis: “care slaughter”.

I was caught in a kind of forward step, I said to myself ‘have to go’, I can’t crack because the patients need me

The hospital opened a psychological unit for its agents during the crisis. But Nathalie did not go, “because I was caught in a kind of forward march, I was like ‘gotta go’, I can’t give up because the patients need me. It’s only when the activity resumes. normal course, after all the adrenaline has gone down, in fact this is where I need it “, she explains. “And the psychological cell has closed. I call in a shrink, but next door, outside the hospital.”

The second wave? “I don’t want to go anymore”

Nathalie would like, she said, to become the “cheerful caregiver” that she was. What she fears is a second wave of the epidemic. “The first, we went, not the flower with the gun, but with the feeling that we had to go, without knowing what to expect. Today, we no longer want to go. I don’t want to go anymore. go”, she assures.

The first one [vague], we went, not the flower with the gun, but with the feeling that we had to go, without knowing what to expect. Today, we don’t want to go anymore

“It’s summer, with the sun, and this summer atmosphere, we still manage to hold out”, said the nurse. But she fears that with the fall and the days which are shortening, the depression will arrive, and that sick leaves will multiply: “I am convinced of it, when the fall will arrive, we will fall like flies. And there, we will have a big problem of manpower”.

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