Sassari Infections increase, doctors in the field decrease and the account is soon done, the emergency room gets stuck, slows down, the tilt goes and eventually collapses. As always, it is the citizens who pay for the inconvenience of public health. And among the citizens, in addition to those exhausted and aching in the waiting room, there are also those in shirts, forced – with grueling shifts and skipped rests – to keep afloat on their shoulders a boat that is almost always in difficulty, but which they cannot afford. to go to the bottom.
It happened once again and history repeats itself every summer. In the last two days, given the difficulty in managing the large number of patients waiting – many of them covid positive – the head of the emergency room of the “Santissima Annunziata” civil hospital in Sassari was forced to ask the 118 operations center to divert less serious cases to other health centers in northern Sardinia. So yesterday morning an ambulance headed from Nulvi to Sassari had to change course and instead of heading towards viale Italia it had orders to transport an elderly patient to the Tempio hospital. Other ambulances were asked to accompany the sick to Ozieri or Alghero because in Sassari the guard level had already been reached. The first inconveniences and inevitable complaints – which also reached our newspaper – began to manifest themselves on Monday evening, when about sixty patients lined up in the waiting room. In the last ten days when the covid cases have started to rise again, the car of the most important reference point of emergency medicine in the north-central of the island has started to trudge. Of the three doctors present during each shift, the third professional, the one who until a few days ago took care of the “dirty” area (with covid patients) which was now almost empty and thanks to this he could lend a hand to the two busy colleagues in the “clean” area, he now has to manage practically full-time an area in which at the moment there are about ten patients waiting for hospitalization and there is no room for new entrances. The longest lines usually occur in the first few days of the week. And this is because the established practice of not discharging patients on Saturdays and Sundays creates a traffic jam that affects – especially on Mondays and Tuesdays – the work of the emergency room doctors. Unable to hospitalize the sick in the various clogged wards (where the five stretcher seats in the corridors are often occupied) but forced to take care of those who become inpatient anyway, the emergency room doctors often have to replace the colleagues from the hospital wards. Because after hours and hours of waiting (sometimes days), patients need evaluations, re-evaluations and of course, therapies. The traffic jam is created because the daily admissions are added to the sick awaiting hospitalization, which naturally increase in summer. Three doctors (which lately become almost always two due to the covid) in front of the assault of fifty and sometimes sixty people per shift are actually few and it may happen that they go into trouble, as happened yesterday and two days ago. In the Sassari emergency room there are about twenty doctors on staff, who every day have to cover (three per shift) the three bands of the day: morning, afternoon and night. To these nine must be added the two who divide the 24 hours in the internal department called Obi (short intensive observation) and the three “dismounters”, those who worked for twelve hours in a row during the night shift and at eight in the morning they return to home to rest. The total is fourteen and theoretically six would be left over to get to twenty. But twenty is not reached because two doctors are on maternity leave at the moment and the company has not yet replaced them. And then there is the unknown covid. These days two doctors have tested positive for the virus and are naturally ill. Three others are on vacation, because doctors also have the right to rest and health companies – like all the others – are asking their employees to make up for their vacation days. So instead of twenty we get to thirteen and those thirteen doctors in the last few days – just when the covid resumed knocking forcefully on hospital doors – they were forced to skip the day off so as not to sink the boat in distress. However, users do not know this and are not required to know and when they go to the emergency room they have every right to receive the necessary health care. But their interlocutor cannot be a professional in a lab coat, called to visit around forty patients in the course of a single night. In addition to trying to save people’s lives, the doctor cannot also be the lightning rod of a system that obviously does not work.