Healthcare workers in their own words: three months of Covid-19
Medical professionals describe their experiences as pandemic evolves
For people who weren't paying attention - that is to say, most of us - the Covid-19 pandemic came out of nowhere. Life in Catalonia went from business as usual to an onslaught of diagnoses and deaths in a matter of days.
Exactly three months after the state of alarm was introduced we can finally say, as evidenced by the much-loosened lockdown restrictions now in place, leading us all towards a so-called "new normality," that the public health situation is not nearly as serious as it once was. And yet, one thing the experiences of the past three months should teach us is not to let our guards down too soon: "The coronavirus is here to stay."
To understand what it was like for medical professionals working in the midst of an unfolding and ever-changing crisis, take a look at the following snippets of what that reality was like for them over the past three months.
March 10: 125 confirmed cases and 3 deaths at medical centers
Núria Torres, Head of 061 medical hotline
"Yesterday we had an onslaught of calls. We had 17,908 calls when we usually have an average of about 10,700."
March 23: 7,864 confirmed cases and 339 deaths at medical centers
Xavi Màrquez, Hospital d'Igualada nurse
"I am making an effort that, if put on a scale of 1 to 10, would be a 10 for me due to exposure to the virus - we're seeing patients who are positive daily - and because of my family - they're not with me and I'm here all alone."
April 1: 21,804 confirmed cases and 2,093 deaths at medical centers
Jordi Gascón, Deputy medical chief of Hospital de Bellvitge
"All the floors where there used to be conventional non-Covid patients now most of them have Covid patients."
April 3: 24,734 confirmed cases and 2,508 deaths at medical centers
Lali Ruiz, Head of medicalized hotel Hesperia Sant Joan Despí
"When we got here, the hotel rooms were set up for tourists. Floor by floor, we've turned it into a hospital."
April 4: 26,032 confirmed cases and 2,637 deaths at medical centers
Tamara Louro, Head of CAP Verdaguer primary care center
"We've identified our chronic and complex patients. They are at risk due to their age or their illness and we are proactively calling them every day to see if they need us."
April 18: 41,992 confirmed cases, 4,336 deaths at medical centers and 8067 deaths reported by funeral homes
Maria Àngels Barba, Director of nursing at Hospital Vall d'Hebron
"Covid-19 patients, precisely because of the required isolation, are very lonely, so [nurses] try even harder than usual to be close to them, to talk to them, to be there for videoconferences or calls with their family members."
April 29: 54,324 confirmed cases, 5,897 deaths at medical centers and 10, 211 deaths reported by funeral homes
Oriol Sibila, Head of respitaratory care at Hospital Clínic
"Hopefully lungs will regenerate and hopefully they'll be cured, but we are worried this could not be the case and there could be long-term effects."
May 7: 60,007 confirmed cases, 6,344 deaths at medical centers and 10,965 deaths reported by funeral homes
Jordi Monedero, head of Hospital d'Igualada emergencies
"A certain sense of normalcy has been recovered [now that lockdown is being eased] because we are starting to see certain medical conditions once again."
May 10: 60,728 confirmed cases, 6,423 deaths at medical centers and 11,160 deaths reported by funeral homes
Miquel Sànchez, head of medical emergencies at Hosptial Clínic
"Our biggest challenge right now medical professionals is safety."
May 21: 64, 037 confirmed cases, 6,571 deaths at health centers and 11,766 deaths reported by funeral homes
Judith Sánchez Raya, Head of physical therapy at Vall d'Hebron
"Physical therapists were already aware of the long-term effects prolonged ICU stays could have."
June 3: 67,461 confirmed cases, 6,742 deaths at health centers and 12,333 deaths reported by funeral homes
Joan Grané, Hospital Capdevànol
"We cannot celebrate too soon because this germ, the coronavirus, is here to stay."