Covid: a minute of silence observed by caregivers to alert on “the announced death of the public hospital”


MOBILIZATION – An apolitical initiative, launched last month in Alsace, is gaining more and more hospitals: this Friday, several nursing staff and users of public hospitals observed a minute of silence, worried about the situation of health centers facing to a galloping epidemic.

No slogan or banner, but a silence of recollection: from Strasbourg to Bordeaux via Marseille, caregivers from several hospitals observed a minute of silence on Friday January 7 to alert on “the announced death of the public hospital”, denouncing their working conditions and the lack of resources. Initiated several weeks ago, the call for mobilization of Alsatian health professionals has met with an echo across France and has since spread to many cities.

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Faced with record increases in contamination, medical staff fear an overload of hospital services, while several white plans have already been triggered, and are thus worried about a “death announced from the public hospital”, in the words of the Alsatian collective at the origin of the movement. At 2 p.m. this Friday, at the entrance to the New Civil Hospital (NHC) in Strasbourg – the city where the initiative was launched -, around 300 people in white coats gathered in the cold to stay for the third time motionless, gazing dark, for a minute.

“The public hospital is dying, it will simply disappear”

“We are here today because we want to continue to treat our patients despite exhaustion, despite the closure of beds, despite budget restrictions, (…) but we are no longer able to do so” declared beforehand, at the microphone, Dr Sébastien Harscoat, emergency doctor and Samu Strasbourg. “The public hospital is dying. (…) His head and his body fail, it will simply disappear”, he added.

At Strasbourg University Hospital, “we lack nurses, and 250 beds are closed for lack of professionals”, insisted this Friday with France Bleu Christian Prud’homme, general secretary of Force Ouvrière at the University Hospitals of Strasbourg.

Such an operation was carried out for the first time on December 10 at Strasbourg University Hospitals, the day of a visit by Prime Minister Jean Castex. Several hundred caregivers then gathered, still in front of the NHC, and were silent to denounce their working conditions. “Work is no longer attractive! We work nights, we go on weekends, and then we are not valued enough. Honestly, who wants to work here for 1,800 bucks?“, a nurse in intensive care was taken away from France 3.

The initiative then spread to several hospitals in Alsace: a week later, the Colmar, Wissembourg and Haguneau centers joined the movement, notes Rue89 Strasbourg. Since then, the movement has had a national impact.

Initiative taken up in particular in Bordeaux, Marseille, Caen and Lorient

It was to take place Friday, January 7 in about fifteen cities in France, according to a list enumerated by Dr. Harscoat. In Bordeaux, around 90 caregivers gathered in the early afternoon in front of a building of the Pellegrin hospital, AFP reports. “Everywhere in France, we have passed the milestone of the moment when we treat people less well, or even when we no longer treat them”, denounced Dr. Pierre Catoire, emergency doctor.

“We sometimes exceed the twenty patients who are in the corridors waiting for a doctor to reach them to at least know if they are in serious condition or not”, he added. According to him, if the situation is worsened by the Covid-19 epidemic, it only “shows (r) the consequences of the choices made over the past 20 years”. “What we see here would have happened, Covid or not.”

In Marseille, a dozen caregivers also observed this minute of silence in front of the Timone hospital. “It’s a programmed death of the public hospital, we are doing everything to sink us, we are not given the means to work”, denounced to AFP Aline Tranvouez, nursing assistant in endocrinology and referent of the mobilization for the Marseille city.

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At 2 p.m., 70 to 80 people also gathered in the hall of the CHU de Caen, a few users joining the staff mobilized, reports France Bleu. “The idea is to draw attention to the critical situation of the public hospital, amplified by the crisis, but not new, with the approach of the presidential election”, indicates the collective on the radio, lambasting “total silence on the hospital situation” to his eyes.

A minute of silence was also planned at the Lorient hospital, reports Ouest France. According to France 3 Régions, several staff had also announced to follow the movement by claiming “a public hospital for all” in New Aquitaine. The operation of caregivers in public hospitals is expected to be repeated every Friday at the same time.

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