Death in European nursing homes

Two morgue workers push a stretcher with the body in a bag out of the room. The old man in the next bed muttered, “Is he dead?”.

He reached out to touch his roommate one last time.

Reflecting on the repeated scene, one of the staff members, Manel Rivera, was desperate at the scene of the elderly dying increasing as the nCoV reappeared.

“The sad thing is,” he said of a man living in a nursing home in Barcelona, ​​Spain, “in the next few days, maybe we have to come back to pick him up.”

Morgue staff are busy for 24 hours in nursing homes and hospitals across Europe. In the US, elderly people in nursing homes and caregivers account for 39% of the 281,000 deaths caused by nCoV. An increase in deaths in Europe is occurring despite measures introduced in the spring, including isolating facilities exclusively for those infected with the disease.

This fact prompted authorities and aged care professionals to enter the race against time before mass vaccination began.

In response, Portugal deployed military units to train nursing staff in disinfection. In France, where at least 5,000 elderly people have died in the past month, and in Germany, Italy, family visits to nursing homes are restricted or banned entirely.

Most countries are intensifying screening, trying to stop the spread of asymptomatic carriers. This strategy has helped Belgium reduce its death rate in nursing homes from 63% of all Covid-19 deaths from before June to 39% by the end of November.

But in Spain, nursing home nCoV deaths increased over two months, accounting for half of all new daily deaths, similar to March and April. worthy of the institutions.

There is reason to hope, however, as Britain became the first country in the world to allow the Pfizer vaccine to be used last week. The vaccine could begin to be distributed within the next few days, prioritizing nursing home residents and their caregivers, followed by the elderly and other health care workers. Nursing homes also top or near the top of vaccination priorities in the US, Spain and many other European countries.

“It is a quick, fair and reasonable way to give priority to nursing homes,” said Miguel Vázquez, head of the Pladigmare Madrid Association. After the alarming death rate and record of repeated mistakes, he said: “Failure to do so would result in an intentional death.”

Some things have improved since spring. Caregivers have learned to get the most out of protective and testing equipment. They have a better understanding of what’s going on inside the facilities and experts know how Covid-19 affects the elderly, with symptoms such as diarrhea and rash being ignored.

An elderly Covid-19 patient at the Vitalia Canillejas aged care facility in Madrid, Spain. Image: AP.

“The chameleon has fooled us,” said Dr. José Augusto García Navarro, head of the Spanish Association of Geriatrics and Aging.

One of the most serious mistakes in the early days is isolating the elderly in an outbreak, leading to loss of mobility, insomnia, malnutrition, depression and other illnesses, even causing many. die.

“It is paramount to ensure physical, care, therapeutic and psychological therapies for the infected person. This did not happen in the first wave and should have been in the second wave.” he said.

At Vitalia Canillejas Home in Madrid, 83-year-old Belkis Zoraida Cuevas is recovering from the virus, leaving her separated from her husband, Joaquín González, 92, for the longest period of time in more than six decades.

Cuevas said: “I’m better, but it was too bad to handle. It’s like going to battle without a weapon.”

Pedro Marcelo, 87, walks with the help of a therapist to restore mobility lost during a month-long hospital stay. He said: “I am not afraid of death, I just want to walk better until the day of death.”

A study of blood samples in all nursing homes in Madrid showed that 53% of the 55,000 residents living in nursing homes, half of which had antibodies.

Paz Membibre, manager of dozens of centers of the Vitalia Home group, Spain, said: “It is sad to say that the damage we have suffered is protective of us now.” However, how long immunity can last is a question scientists are still trying to answer.

While, across the continent, the number of cases increased to dozens, even more than 100, in just 48 hours.

In Spain, morbidity and mortality increased most strongly in the southern Andalucía regions and central Castilla León. In neighboring France, cases are more contagious than spring and are concentrated in hot spots.

In Berlin, recently, 14 people died of nCoV in a facility of 90, city officials say the strict rule set is not in place.

García Navarro said most of the affected facilities in Spain were trying to control the virus in the face of a shortage of manpower due to sick caregivers. In some cases, “they still don’t follow the safety rules,” he said.

In the stark report of thousands of people being abandoned in nursing homes, many without medical treatment in Madrid and Barcelona in the spring, Amnesty International said some similar problems remained. There exist, including health rules that recommend prioritizing the younger over the elderly.

Poor bureaucracy and mismanagement also play a role. The Spanish government’s internal analysis also considered listing 30 major errors leading to the deaths of more than 20,000 elderly people with Covid-19 in mid-May. But recommendations are still under review by local officials. some are not even done.

Chile (According to the AP)


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