16 July 2020, Thursday, 3:19
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Vitsebsk Medical Doctor Tells the Truth About Current State of Hospitals

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Vitsebsk Medical Doctor Tells the Truth About Current State of Hospitals

Medical professional decided to give an interview to save loved ones from COVID-19.

If Vitsebsk has many coronavirus patients, why do doctors keep silence? Many people are asking this question now. Now we can say that not all medical professionals are ready to be silent. Natallia Larionova, the doctor of laboratory diagnostics of the Emergency Hospital, agreed to talk to Vitebsk Courier. She told about what was happening in city hospitals.

On Friday, March 27, Natallia spent her last day at work. Then she left for the weekend to her relatives in Orsha. According to her, over the weekend it was informed that the Emergency Hospital's therapeutic building was being prepared for patients with respiratory infections. Before that, according to Natallia, infectious diseases, regional and railway hospitals and the STD clinic accepted such patients.

"I was told that every hospital but ours accepted them until yesterday. I don't know if there are any patients with coronavirus infection in the EH (Emergency Hospital) now. To date, an entire therapeutic building has been urgently moved out. I was supposed to be on duty on Saturday night, but my colleagues told me to go to my parents. They would start transferring patients and carrying tests. My colleague called me and said: "Don't come to work." We know that the elderly are the first to suffer.

My colleagues also told me that the hospital was closed for patients. They were afraid because corridors were crowded with people. There were examinations and they were afraid to infect pregnant women. Yesterday I was told that the hospital was empty. As for now, I have no information on sick people there. I won't lie," said the doctor.

According to Natallia, doctors have no protective gear; there are people in the corridor who came for examination. Last week, students visited the hospital. Although Natallia is not aware of the number of people infected in the city, she knows that many doctors are now sick both in Vitsebsk and Orsha.

"Doctors have long been hospitalized with pneumonia. All those who had contact with that Italian delegation, Martynov. Then the diagnostic centre was closed; doctors began to self-isolate, and then were taken to hospitals. I know that my superior got sick. He was just at work when Martynov was taking a CT scan. Last week he was in a serious condition. He could barely speak.

The doctor who did a CT scan for Martynov had pneumonia. He worked in our hospital. My acquaintance told me that the chief of the railway hospital has pneumonia and is in ICU now. Two other heads of ICU from the regional hospital also has pneumonia. I only know doctors; there are still nurses," recalls the doctor.

According to Natallia, EH doctors were also sent to other city hospitals on duty.

"Doctors and intensive care workers served duty in other hospitals. "Doctors there fall sick. We have one wardrobe with ICU, so we have direct contact all day.

Young emergency physicians were outraged," said the doctor.

At the same time, retired doctors were allowed to quit without a problem.

"A lot of retired people quit. This is in Orsha and Vitsebsk. Others see the reason", says the medical professional.

As for personal protective gear, gloves and masks, so far all the hospital has had it. However, there are few disposable medical masks, physicians use mainly gauze ones.

"I haven't seen a single respirator. Our department mainly uses gauze ones. In Orsha, I was in three pharmacies, there were no masks. All of Orsha does not wear masks at all, everyone is fearless they: events, school camps, some Olympiads, everything works. But people fell silent. Doctors there got sick and people go to hospitals.

We were given a hundred disposable masks. The head nurse gave them to us and said no more masks would be given. That was last Friday. I asked one and was wearing it all those days. We had people in gauze masks. Well, a gauze mask is funny", shares her impressions Vitsebsk doctor.

Natallia said that a close friend of hers got coronavirus in Orsha.

"My friend arrived from Vilnius. When the roads were closed she started to find a car. She sat down with the driver, a Belarusian, and he told her he was coming from Italy, to die. She had no way out and stayed with him. She came to Belarus two weeks ago, frightened (she's 47 years old) and passed the test. A few days later, on the fifth day, she had clinical manifestations. It was in Orsha. She called an ambulance, took the test. There was no answer. She waited, got sick, could bearly breath. The physician called her and told her she was afraid. It was agreed that she would give her a prescription and put it on the mat. That's understandable, we're not protected. My friend waited 10 days for a test, she went to the hospital when she started to choke. The test was negative. They said she would take the repeated testing.

Turning back to the issue of the silence of medical professionals, journalists asked Natallia whether non-disclosure agreement was reliable. She says that none of the medical staff knows anything about it.

"We just have a slightly different mentality. We'll work just because it's right. If we run off the battlefield, who will save you and your mother? It will be the end," she says.

We also asked Natallia what motivated her to tell about the situation in Vitsebsk.

"I belong to the family of doctors. My friends are doctors. My colleagues are doctors. I know the situation when you watch TV, and I don't want to believe it. I realize we're at risk now. If we start dying now, first of all, there's no one to save other people. I want my people to survive. Fear is understandable, but ignorance is worse. I took this step because we're facing death.

I don't want us to get the cemetery of doctors, my relatives, people I love, wonderful people who have looked the death in the eye. You see doctors have already begun to give interviews, act. We are hostages of circumstances. When you realise that your mom and dad can die, because older people suffer more often, as well as your beloved teachers, relatives, you do not feel fear anymore".

We should admit that one should have dignity and self-esteem to speak openly and frankly. According to Natallia, she asked for support from friends, including friends from other countries, in her decision to share information.