It's not just patients who have been dying from Covid 19.

This is my final post in the Covid 19 series. I feel compelled to document the absolute carnage that the disease has caused among healthcare workers.

More than 1,000 Doctors and 600 nurses around the world are know to have died from the coronavirus. These figures do not include carers, cleaners, emergency workers and aged care staff.

Black people are 3.5 times more likely to die from Covid 19 than white people. One of reasons is that they are simply more likely to be employed at the ground floor of the health industry, and therefor face higher exposure to the virus.

This post is dedicated to their memories.

And at looking for ways to better protect them in the future.

Around the world, Doctors and nurses have been quietly disappearing...

'For residents of the West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Austin, Texas, Maurice Dotson was a daily presence. As a nursing assistant, he hoisted them out of bed, helped them dress, fetched water, changed diapers and watched for signs of distress.'

Nursing Assistant Kept Showing Up for Work—Until He Got Sick. James R. Hagerty, April 24th 2020, Wall Street Journal.

‘America’s health care workers are dying. In some states, medical staff account for as many as 20% of known coronavirus cases. They tend to patients in hospitals, treating them, serving them food and cleaning their rooms. Others at risk work in nursing homes or are employed as home health aides.’

Lost On The Frontline. Melissa Bailey, Alastair Gee, Christina Jewett, Ankita Rao, Danielle Renwick, Sarah Varney April 24, 2020, Kaiser Health News.

‘At least 116 nurses have died in this country of 210 million from Covid-19, according to Brazil’s Federal Nursing Council—the highest toll anywhere. That is more than the 107 nurses who have died in the U.S., where the total death count of people succumbing to the pandemic is about six times more than in Brazil. In Italy, which has about twice as many total deaths as Brazil, 39 nurses have died, according to Italy’s National Federation of Nurses, or Fnopi.’


Brazil’s Nurses Are Dying as Covid-19 Overwhelms Hospitals – Wall Street Journal, 18th May 2020.

'In the province of Brecia, the center of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, a 73-year-old doctor named Gino Fasoli came out of retirement to help treat patients amid the growing crisis.

On March 6, he told his brother that he was feeling unwell, with a headache and fever. By March 10, his condition had worsened. “I can’t speak,” Fasoli said. Soon, he was transferred to the hospital, where he tested positive for COVID-19. Doctors were unable to save him.

At 8 o’clock on the 14th they called me from the hospital to tell me he was dead,” his brother said.’

Health Care Workers Around The World Are Dying To Save Us From COVID-19. Huffpost, by Sasha Belenky, 26th March 2020.

‘The government says there have been 49 verified deaths of NHS staff from Covid-19 during the pandemic, but it is clear that many others have died. The Guardian has recorded 200 deaths that have been reported in the news, but the true figure is likely to be higher because not all deaths will be in the public domain.’

Doctors, nurses, porters, volunteers: the UK health workers who have died from Covid-19. The Guardian, by Sara Marsh, 19th May 2020.

A doctor who delayed his retirement to fight the coronavirus pandemic at a low-income hospital died of COVID-19…

Pulmonologist James Mahoney reportedly worked his day shifts in the intensive care unit of the University Hospital of Brooklyn, which, like many hospitals in New York, initially lacked the medical equipment needed to treat the onslaught of coronavirus patients during the pandemic.

Mahoney, who was 62, had the option of retiring after serving for 40 years as a physician, but instead treated his patients until he contracted the coronavirus and died on April 27′.

Doctor who delayed retirement to fight pandemic at low-income hospital dies of COVID-19. The Hill, by Justine Coleman, 18th May 2020.

'In Pakistan… a doctor recounted to the BBC being forced to turn away a patient who needed a ventilator, after he had already been rejected by two other hospitals…’

‘a family was told an ICU bed with a ventilator wasn’t available for their relative, who was in a critical condition and subsequently died… 20 to 30 members of the group attempted to attack hospital staff. (The Doctor) said some of the relatives shouted out angrily: “If coronavirus is real… how are you not sick?’

‘hundreds of doctors have been infected with coronavirus in Pakistan. At least 30 healthcare workers are reported to have died from it.’

Coronavirus: Rumours, fear and rising Covid deaths in Pakistan. By Secunder Kermani, BBC News, 4th June 2020.

While newspapers have been recording lists of names...

Few realise that governments can be more dangerous to Doctors than the disease.

So what can we do to better protect our Emergency workers?

  1. FORM A GLOBAL UNION TO HELP HEALTHCARE WORKERS CREATE A BILL OF RIGHTS
    Guaranteed access to coronavirus testing kits for themselves and their families

Ongoing access to Personal Protective Equipment while at work

Protecting Doctors from intimidation by governments, after speaking out on social media about problems like high death rates and lack of adequate resources.

2.  PUT STAFF MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES IN PLACE TO MINIMIZE INFECTION RATES
Smart technology like ultra violet lights attached to small robots and drones that spray disinfectant are now available in some hospitals.

This technology should be provided to healthcare staff in their homes, and to the general community.

Monitoring and reduction of staff’s exposure to bacteria and viruses should be a key priority.

Regular testing, early diagnosis and isolation of infected healthcare staff is essential.

Ongoing management of staff risk factors such as Vitamin D deficiency, obesity, diabetes and metabolic disorders should be part of healthcare employment contracts.

3.  REDUCE THE INCIDENT OF INFECTIONS COMING INTO HOSPITALS IN THE FIRST PLACE
Focus on much tighter screening for staff, patients, relatives and visitors as they go in and out of hospitals.

Keep people at home unless they require invasive treatments. Make greater use of community nursing and remote monitoring technology.

Creating zones within hospitals, delegate them as ‘low’, ‘medium’ and ‘high’ risk areas.

Tracking infections as they spread around hospitals and make every effort to reduce their spread.

References

How Hospitals Can Protect Frontline Healthcare Workers From COVID-19. Ken Jung · Ron Li · Andrew Ng · Christian Rose · Eric Topol · Kelly Zhang · Ming Zhou · Sharon Zhou. April 3rd. Medium.

Previous articles in this series:

Understanding pandemics – our dark shadow.

Not all covid19 cases are equal – our dark shadow.