Wednesday, December 7

Chaos on the first night of reopening of out-of-hospital emergencies in Madrid: “We are without a doctor”


Gimelda Rodríguez, 19, enters the Paseo Imperial (Arganzuela) emergency room in Madrid at 10:00 p.m. accompanied by her father. She has some plaques in her throat that bother her a lot. After calling the health center, she discovered that it was necessary to wait until the next day for someone to look at them. The out-of-hospital emergencies, which were closed during the pandemic, returned to serve the people of Madrid this Thursday. As soon as she entered and explained her situation to the caretaker of the center, Rodríguez found out that she would have to return the next day. “We are without a doctor, sorry. We can’t attend to him ”, the center’s toilets answered.

Ayuso entrusts the Primary Care emergencies to volunteers, which will reopen on the 27th with the staff on strike

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Between doctors who discovered at dawn that they had been assigned to a health center several kilometers from their home, lack of medical supplies and staff reduced to a minimum, the first night in the PACs has been a disaster from minute one. “Chaos” is the word most used by unions and health workers to describe the much-desired reopening.



The case of this Continuous Attention Point – the new name that the Community has chosen for the 37 SUAPs and the 41 SARs that reopened this Thursday – is not isolated. The Guadarrama, Espronceda and Móstoles centers, among others, have also worked without doctors, while in Valdemoro, Rivas, Federica Montseny or Soto del Real even nurses were missing, according to CCOO data. The Ministry of Health estimated that 60% of out-of-hospital emergencies opened without a doctor on the first day. “Of the 234 professionals who had been called to work today, a total of 94 have reported their leave due to temporary disability due to personal situations of a different nature or due to permits requested due to family incidents,” the regional body has detailed.

Despite the problems in the templates, the neighbors have received with happiness, but also anger and doubts, the reopening of the emergencies in their neighborhoods. “I have come to check with my own eyes. When they announced it, I didn’t believe that the emergency rooms were going to reopen,” explains Antonio Arroj, who lives next to the Las Águilas health center, in the Latina district. He decided to take a walk to confirm in person that the announcement that the 78 health centers were going to reopen 24 hours a day was not “another of Ayuso’s lies.” “I’m happy, it was necessary. Now we have to see how long it lasts, ”he says exasperated as he walks away to return home.

With half the necessary staff

Since the Community communicated its plan at the end of September to reorganize the Primary Care emergencies closed during the pandemic, the unions have warned of the risk that reopening the 78 24-hour Health Centers with half the necessary personnel would entail. They even called an indefinite strike, which has finally been canceled 48 hours after the reopening of the former SUAP after a “closer approach” with the Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso. However, his worst fears have been realized.



According to the new working hours, the emergencies should be working from 5:00 p.m. However, at this time almost no center was equipped to care for patients. At the continuous care point on Avenida de Portugal, in Puerta del Ángel, the manager of the Primary Care center appeared with the keys to the emergency room at 5:03 p.m. A few minutes later, when the restrooms were still missing, a woman arrived with two daughters suffering from otitis so they could examine them. “You can’t, there is no pediatrician here,” the person in charge hastily explained, forcing the mother and the girls to go somewhere else.

Citizens are not the only ones who have suffered from the disorder of the reopening, which has also affected the toilets. “We had been told that the center was equipped and ready to go. Nothing could be further from reality”, denounces María Cuevas, an emergency doctor in Las Águilas, in the district of Latina. As for many of her classmates, it is her first day at this center.

After having worked 14 years as an intern in the SAR of La Cabrera, she found out on Wednesday night that she had been transferred through an email from the Primary Care management. “I am 60 kilometers from where I live, in a center where I don’t know the patients or the co-workers. And I have to stay here for at least three months. Citizens do not deserve to be treated by health workers who deal with this stage of anxiety, ”she says, visibly disturbed after attending to her first patient.



“This health center saved my life”

Noelia S. has arrived at the doors of the center lamenting a strong chest tightness. “What luck that I found it open, I had not found out that it had started working again,” says this 21-year-old. In order to examine her, Cuevas and her team had to refer her to the health center: shortly after opening the emergency room, they discovered that the machine to do the electrocardiogram was missing. “At this time the health center is still open. But what would have happened if he had arrived in the middle of the night?” asks the doctor.

María Juana García (82 years old) has saved herself an hour-plus bus trip to the San Carlos Clinical Hospital, the closest to her home. “Things have been fatal for the last two years. Every time I needed to, I had to take the 138, or ask my grandson to come with me. Now I just have to cross the street, ”she explains, satisfied after being attended to.

“This health center saved my life,” says Emiliano Gómez at the door of the emergency room. He remembers when, a few years ago, he stuck his dental appliance in his tongue, and arrived at the gates of Las Águilas with a blood-dripping towel pressed against his mouth to stop the bleeding. “If instead of walking 100 meters I had had to go to the Clinic, maybe I would have died. It is a story that I always tell my wife’s friends when they start saying that public health is useless”.



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