Dr. Daniele Macchini, a doctor at Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in Bergamo, northern Italy, described on Facebook how his hospital has been affected by coronavirus.
“After much thought about if and what to write about what is happening to us, I felt that silence is not responsible,” he wrote. “Therefore I will try to tell people who are far from our reality about what we are living in Bergamo in these days. I understand the need not to create panic, but when the message of how dangerous events are is not reaching people, I shake with fear.”
“I myself watched with a certain amount of amazement as the hospital was reorganized entirely over the past week. When our current enemy was still in the shadows: The departments ‘slowly emptied,’ elective activities were stopped, ICU patients were transferred there in order to empty as many beds as possible.
“All of these rapid changes brought an atmosphere of surreal silence and emptiness to the hospitals’ hallways, when we still did not understand, when we were waiting for a war that had not yet begun and that many (including myself) were not sure that would ever come with such cruelty.
“I still remember the nighttime conversation I had a week ago, when I waited for the results of the test. When I think about it, my fear of the possible situation looks almost stupid and unjustified now, when I’m seeing what’s happening. And so, things are pretty dramatic here, to say the least.
“The war broke out, very simply, and the battles were endless, day and night. But now the need for beds has come to be big drama. One after the other, the departments which were emptied are filling up at an impressive pace.
“The boards with the patients’ names, in different colors in accordance with the operation units, now they’re all red and instead of the operation, we see always see the same horrible diagnosis: Bilateral interstitial lung disease.
“Now explain to me how the flu virus causes such drama, so quickly. And there are still people who are proud of the fact that they’re not scared, and ignore the guidelines, and protest that their lifestyle has ‘temporarily’ been put in crisis.
“The epidemiological disaster is happening. And there are no more surgeons, urologists, orthopedists. We’re just doctors who have suddenly become part of one staff that’s facing this tsunami that’s overwhelmed us.
“The cases are becoming more numerous, we’re seeing 15-20 hospitalizations per day, and it’s all for the same reason. The test results come in now one after the other: Positive, positive, positive. Suddenly the emergency room is collapsing.
“The reason for coming in is always identical: Fever and difficulty breathing, fever and cough, respiratory failure. Radiology always reports the same thing: Bilateral lung infection, bilateral lung infection, bilateral lung infection. They’re all going to be hospitalized.
“One patient needs intubation and the intensive care unit. For others it’s too late….all the ventilation machines have become gold. Those in the operating rooms which have ceased their non-urgent work have become intensive care rooms which did not previously exist.
“The staff is exhausted. I saw their exhaustion on the faces which have not seen such work, despite the overload of work that already exhausted them. I saw the solidarity among everyone, who never ceased turning to our internal medicine doctors and colleagues, asking, ‘And what can I do for you now?’
“Doctors are moving beds and transferring patients. Nurses have tears in their eyes because we can’t save them all and thee vital signs of several of them simultaneously reveal their known fate.
“There’s no more shifts, there are no more hours. Our social lives have been put on hold. We don’t see our families already, out of fear we might infect them. Some of us have already become infected, despite the protective protocols.”