My husband’s cousin is a nurse in Italy’s Coronavirus Red Zone. Although she retired on 1/1/2020, she’s being bombarded with texts from her colleagues at Pope Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo. This hospital is Ground Zero in the Italian Red Zone.
She’s been sending me texts of her texts. Warnings that make me sit up and bite my nails and spend sleepless nights, but also help me to focus.
This stuff is serious. You might not want to hear. If not, read no further. But as they say, forewarned is forearmed. But no panic. Just take stock of the situation that the experts in charge here are describing.
Here’s her shocking text this morning: headlines from an interview with the doctor in charge of anesthesiology at her old hospital.
I looked the interview with Salaroli up. Here’s the link to the original in Italian. I’ll include an English translation (mine) of select portions below:
In an interview with Corriere della Sera newspaper, Christian Salaroli, 48 years old, doctor, manager and anesthesiologist at the Pope Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, explains the climate and complexity of this coronavirus emergency inside Italian hospitals, including his. “We decide on the basis of age and overall health. As on a battlefield. I’m not the one who has decided this, this is what all the manuals we have studied from instruct us to do.”
Are there written rules to follow? Doctor Salaroli answers that “at the moment […] no” and that “according to practice–even if it’s terrible to say–patients with serious cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular pathologies are evaluated very carefully, because they do not tolerate acute hypoxia very well and have a small chance of surviving the critical phase of the illness.”
What does this mean? It means they probably don’t get hooked up to the necessary machinery because the machinery is in short supply. As are the beds.
Someone wrote me that they don’t know what to do.
Three weeks ago, we didn’t know what to do either. Now with three weeks of experience under our belts (a learning curve during which I went from it won’t happen to me, to it’s not that serious but doesn’t Milan look nice without the crowds, to I’ll go to the hospital if I get sick and other delusions) I’ll share another text with some advice also from a doctor at the hospital (via our cousin-nurse):
This spread of the virus happens at lightning speed. We, the medical profession, need your help. Wash your hands. Avoid going out. Avoid going to the beauty parlor, the gym, the movies, meetings for work. Avoid restaurants and bars, if you possibly can. If you don’t feel well, even if it’s “just a cold,” stay at home so you don’t spread germs and lower other people’s immune systems. If quarantine is indicated, follow the guidelines and stay at home!
This morning my husband isn’t feeling so well. Yesterday it was me. He’s in one room, and I’m in another, taking a break from a training course I’m doing about virtual teaching.
We’re together with this idea about keeping separate. It’s not psychosis or panic. We’re just trying to increase the odds of staying well, here in the Red Zone. I hope you can do the same, because we’re all in this together–each on their own. Separately together. Together separately. You get it. I hope.