life without night emergencies for seven months in Draguignan

ReportageThe Dracénie hospital had to reduce its opening hours for lack of doctors. After 8:30 p.m., patients must go to the next hospital, 32 kilometers away, or wait until the next day.

Midnight has struck when the young man sits painfully in the reception office of the emergencies of Draguignan (Var). He made a false move when getting out of his car seven years earlier. The knee joint cracked, he thought it would be nothing but the swelling and the pain convinced him. Justine Bridoux, the reception and orientation nurse, confirms: “It looks like a sprain at the very least. » You should have an X-ray or even an MRI. A brief interview with the doctor for validation, then: “The problem is that we are closed, we cannot take care of you. »

The sign at the entrance announced it in red letters, the patient is not surprised. But he comes from a small town in the south of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the bordering department, and has already driven an hour, because he found the door closed in the emergency room of Manosque. “What can I do? », he tries to the nurse. Wait until the next morning, or go to the next hospital, Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël, 32 kilometers away. He prefers Fréjus, hoping that “it’s not complete”.

The emergency department of the Dracénie hospital center, closed at night for seven months, lacks doctors, in Draguignan (Var), on June 8, 2022.

“More than an hour and a half drive to find open emergencies… That’s what a cracking hospital system is”, comments Jean-Daniel Anguiviel, emergency room nurse, watching the limping patient head for the exit. The scene became familiar to the two nurses. On this Wednesday in early June, the emergency room at the Dracénie hospital has been closed between 8:30 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. for seven months.

Since October 29, 2021, there has only been one doctor on call at night – compared to three the rest of the time – to only take care of vital emergencies. All other patients must return home, or go elsewhere: to Fréjus, most often, but also to Brignoles, 60 kilometers away, to Grasse, 77 kilometers, or even to Toulon, 86 kilometers away.

Océane and Kevin are among the last people accepted in the emergency room, at the end of the afternoon, and are awaiting their care at the Dracénie hospital, in Draguignan (Var), on June 8, 2022.

It is the lack of doctors that has placed this hospital in a critical situation. In the fall of 2021, after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic which wrung out caregivers and a summer when Var emergencies were particularly in demand, a wave of departures brought the number of positions occupied down to six. Since then, the number of doctors has never risen to more than eight or nine, while the service, which has recorded 45,000 visits per year, requires twenty-two.

Extended journeys

“We couldn’t do our job anymore.deplores doctor Ariel Uzkuras, 51 years old, including twenty-six in the emergency room of Dracénie. We chained the guards, it was no longer possible to remain open non-stop without exhausting ourselves and endangering the patients. » It may well be to repeat that there is “no other choice”, he remains stunned. Close the emergency room, this permanent, free service, open to all, symbol of a public health service which aims to guarantee everyone access to care throughout the territory, it would not have “never thought of living this”.

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