in Marseille, patients forced to wait twenty hours on a stretcher in the emergency room

In the middle of the day in the Timone emergency room, the firefighters accompany an elderly man who arrives unconscious on a stretcher. “I’m out of breath with this heat, I’m suffocating and I can’t sleep. I’m not telling you”, explains the patient.“Are you vaccinated?” asks a doctor, before congratulating him on having completed his four doses. It’s 1 p.m. and it’s the 110th patient for the day.

In this hospital as in many others, the situation remains tense in the middle of summer. Despite messages inviting patients to call the Samu before going to the emergency room, at least 120 services in the country have been facing great difficulties since the end of May, according to the Samu-Urgences de France union. In front of his computer screen, Christophe Masson, reception nurse, controls the arrivals and departures of patients.

“There were 60 passes in six hours and if we continue at the same pace, we will exceed 200-250. That’s a lot.”

Christophe Masson, nurse

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A third must be hospitalized. But for lack of available beds, explains this nurse, it is currently necessary to direct them towards other establishments. “In concrete terms, we have a 90-year-old patient who is in her 20th hour of stretcher hospitalization and who is going to leave, who is going to be hospitalized in privateexplains the nurse. Stretcher hospitalizations are truly an emergency room’s worst nightmare. And even more so at 90.”

Unable to do otherwise with post-Covid-19 fatigue and the departure of staff to other establishments, the emergency medical team has lost half of its staff since March. So beds had to be closed. Dr. Céline Meguerditichian, who directs the service, dreads the weeks to come. “We should be 30, 35 and here we are between 16 and 20 doctors to try to shoot properly. So we made some adaptations on the ground so as not to be overwhelmed either.”

“It’s more or less holding up. We’re on the edge. We also have to hold on to the month of August, the month of all worries, summer, the month of all vacation departures, the month of tourists.”

Dr Céline Meguerditichian, head of emergencies at the Timone hospital in Marseille

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And a sign of this concern, a white tent has just been erected in the parking lot right next to the emergency room. Inside, tables, chairs. Enough to connect medical devices in case of excessive influx. It is under this tent that the first sorting of patients will take place. “According to certain criteria, we will decide if yes, indeed, their place is in the emergency room or not. If this is not the case, they will be directed to city medicine”, explains the head of emergencies. The initiative is completely new to Timone, insists Dr Celine Meguerditichianwho is impatiently awaiting the arrival of five reinforcements in the service at the start of the school year.

La Timone emergency room in Marseille – a report by Anne Le Gall

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