Doctors on the frontline in Italy’s battle against Coronavirus struggle to cope with the pressures of work, family life, and breaking bad news. “I have cut my long hair and I see my children while wearing a mask.”
These are the words of a surgeon, a 50-year-old mother of two, working at a hospital in the Bergamo, part of the Lombardy devastated by the Coronavirus pandemic. The doctor – identified as ‘L.B.’ – was interviewed by Italian newspaper.
“When I am about to get home, I tell my husband to keep the children away. I go to the bathroom, I throw everything in the wash, I stand in the shower for 40 minutes, I scrub myself with soap and water.
Then I put on my mask and, in any case, I keep my children at a distance. I have cut my hair short to avoid taking anything home as much as possible.”.
“The patient goes into respiratory arrest, you perform cardiac massage because no, as a doctor you can’t let him die, he looks at you. And when you have to intubate him? You have the tube but you don’t have a ventilator. So what do you do?”
Husbands and wives, children and grandchildren wait for news. “The patient knows what’s going on, you read it in their eyes. “Tell my wife I love her” or “Send greetings to my newborn granddaughter that I couldn’t see,” they tell you.
We deliver messages that family members give us on the phone, but the cards they bring and the drawings by the grandchildren stay outside.”
The doctor concludes her interview with Corriere della Sera
while awaiting the results of two men, both born in 1973. The results arrive: one is positive, one is negative. “I am happy, half happy”, she says.