Coronavirus: ‘We are facing a war’ – Italian frontline doctors fear losing control as hospital cases rise | World news


Watching Dr Silvana Di Florio prepare to enter an intensive care unit where every bed currently reserved for COVID-19 patients is already full reminds you of the severity of the virus.

With the help of another member of staff, she lies down in protective clothing: a mask, a coveralls, then a large hood with a clear visor, the air of another world to the untrained eye. .

She is the head of intensive care nursing at Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome and feels the intense pressure of a second wave of COVID.

We have the chance to speak to her before she enters the area where day after day the demands for personnel increase dramatically. And these are medical professionals still trying to recover from the physical and mental stress of the spring epidemic.

Dr Di Florio is Head of Intensive Nursing at one of the largest hospitals in Rome

She seems calm when she begins to speak: “In the beginning, we were the ones facing a global health emergency. ”

She then pauses and begins to sob, telling us, “We are now facing a war. We are tired. We are few. Some are sick and have few resources.

“But we are always present, always prepared, always very careful. ”

Pulling herself together, she said, “I think sometimes we can go on even just for the ‘thank you’ the patient is telling us. ”

It is clear that Dr Di Florio and others dealing with the second wave of COVID are struggling physically and emotionally.

Ambulances recently had to queue for hours to admit patients infected with the virus

She tells us that her staff get tested regularly so as not to miss a shift. Demand is increasing and as frightened as they could be they feel like “missionaries” doing a job.

Tor Vergata Hospital is one of the largest in the Italian capital and doctors and nurses are adamant about the reality they face – that it will not be able to cope if the COVID count continues to increase.

From the security of a hallway in the infectious disease ward, we are shown rooms all now occupied by COVID patients.

Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome
Staff fear they will be unable to cope if patient numbers continue to rise

Just days ago, ambulances lined up until nine a.m. to admit patients.

Looking through the glass in the rooms, one can only imagine what it is like for the sick here; cut off from family, unable to have visitors, wondering if they will even know when and if the day comes when they deteriorate enough that they need to be transferred to intensive care.

Professor Massimo Andreoni, who heads the department, warns that things will get worse and that there is, he says, only one solution: a national lockdown.

“So I think it’s very important to start the lockdown quickly and stop the pandemic,” he says.

Prof Massimo Andreoni
Professor Andreoni said another national lockdown was the only way to make things better

“This is the only possibility because there is not the capacity to have enough beds in the hospital for these patients. ”

This is a stern warning from a man who fears impossible pressures on the health service.

For now, however, this is a decision the Italian government is resisting. What happens in hospitals across the country in the coming days may force a shift in political strategy.


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