Barcelona, Spain-The relentless increase in COVID-19 infections in Spain after the holiday season has re-burdened hospitals and threatened the mental health of doctors and nurses at the forefront of the pandemic for nearly a year.
At the Barcelona hospital Delmar, the critical care capacity has more than doubled and is almost full, with 80% of ICU beds occupied by coronavirus patients.
“There are young people over the age of 20 and older people aged 80 in all age groups,” said Dr. Joan Ramon Muskran, who heads the ICU. “This is very difficult and we are getting patients one after another.”
Authorities allowed up to 10 people to gather for Christmas and New Year celebrations, but Masculans chose not to join the family and spent his vacation at home with his partner.
“We did it to maintain our own health and the health of others, and when we found that this was not done (by others), it caused serious anger and malaise. It makes me feel better, “he said.
A study published this month by Hospital del Mar, examining the effects of the spring COVID-19 surge on more than 9,000 health care workers across Spain, found that at least 28% suffered from major depression. This is six times the pre-pandemic population, said Dr. Giordia Ronso, one of the principal investigators.
In addition, the study found that nearly half of the participants were at high risk for problems with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, panic attacks, or substance or alcohol abuse.
Healthcare workers in Spain are not the only workers suffering from pandemics and psychology. According to the World Health Organization, doctors and nurses have even higher levels of mental illness in China, with 50% reporting depression, 45% anxiety and 34% insomnia.
In the UK, 64% of doctors report fatigue or fatigue, according to a survey released by the Royal College of Physicians last week. One in four asked for mental health support.
“In the medical world, it’s pretty terrible at the moment. Hospitalization is at the highest level in history, staff are exhausted, and in the tunnel,” said Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians. There is light at the end, but that light seems to be far away. “
Dr. Aleix Carmona, a third-year anesthesiologist living in northeastern Catalonia, Spain, had little experience in the ICU until the pandemic. However, because the surgery was canceled, Carmona was summoned to the ICU at Moises Brodge Hospital on the outskirts of Barcelona to fight a virus that the world knows little about.
“Initially, we had a lot of adrenaline. We were very afraid, but we had a lot of energy,” Carmona recalled. He cultivated the first few weeks of the pandemic with little time to handle unprecedented battles.
It was only two months later that I began to feel the sacrifice of seeing people dying slowly as I was out of breath. He wondered what to tell the patient before intubation. His first reaction was always to reassure them and tell them they were okay. But in some cases he knew it wasn’t true.
“Before each shift, I had difficulty sleeping and began to feel anxious,” Carmona said, adding that she felt beaten and returned home 12 hours later.
For a while he could only sleep with the help of medicine. Some colleagues have begun taking antidepressants and anxiolytics. But it was the support group at his hospital that really helped Carmona. There, his colleague unloaded the experience they packed inside.
However, not everyone joined the group. For many, asking for help will make them seem unfit for the job.
“Our profession can handle a lot,” said David Oliver, a spokesman for the Catalan branch of the SATSE Nurses Union. “I don’t want to take a day off because I know my colleagues will be overloaded.”
According to the survey, the most affected groups of health care workers were overwhelmingly female, often immigrant nurse aides and nurses. They spent more time with dying COVID-19 patients, faced poor working conditions and salaries, and were afraid to infect their families.
Desirée Ruiz is a nurse supervisor in the emergency room of Hospital del Mar. Some nurses on her team were unable to cope with constant stress and all deaths and asked to take a break from work.
Patients are rarely allowed to visit their families to prevent infection and become more dependent on nurses. It is especially difficult to call relatives about the patient’s last wishes and words, Lewis said.
“This is very difficult for those who hold the hands of these patients, even if they know they will die,” she said.
Lewis, who organizes a shift of nurses and ensures that the ICU is always staffed properly, is getting harder and harder to do so.
Unlike summer, doctors and nurses have been working constantly since the fall when the virus cases recurred when the number of cases decreased and healthcare professionals were urged to take vacations.
The recent resurgence has nearly doubled the number of daily cases seen in November, with Spain currently the third highest COVID-19 infection rate in Europe and the fourth confirmed death toll of more than 55,400. It boasts a high death toll.
However, unlike many European countries, including neighboring Portugal, the Spanish Minister of Health has so far ruled out the possibility of a new blockade, instead reducing the rate of infection without adversely affecting the economy. It takes time to rely on less stringent limits.
Alonso fears that the recent surge in viral cases can be as detrimental to the mental health of medical staff as the shock of the first few months of the pandemic.
“If we want to take good care of ourselves, we also need to take care of health care workers who are suffering and still suffering,” he said.
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