26 June 2020 - Newsletter

March 11th, 2020: The Doors are closed but it is already too late…

MARCH 11TH, 2020: THE DOORS ARE CLOSED BUT IT IS ALREADY TOO LATE… By Amélie Dogimont, director of the Vaillant Couturier residence (Marly)

December 2019, by the fire, I share a meal with my family watching from afar the first TV news from China. An aggressive virus decimates a city, the spacesuits are out, as for nuclear disaster. The streets are empty. Carefree, I enjoy this beautiful winter evening.

March 11th, 2020, the government’s announcement resonates, we all look at each other, we don’t know yet what awaits us. We close the doors but it is already too late… A nurse warns us: a resident of the unite « heats up ».

March 14th, this resident is hospitalized. We all know what it is but we prefer not believing it. Seeing one of our residents go to hospital, who everybody liked, is a first strike of pain. And also a fear. What if the other residents were infected?

March 17th, a doctor warns us that he is ill, and that he visited someone in the unit a few days before March 11. He apologizes and the conclusion falls: “IT” is indeed among us.

We have been preparing for weeks, dissecting the first data we have on the enemy, the generals at the headquarters and their soldiers are working with us, searching everywhere for ammunition, training battalions to go to the frontline. We know that our people can die and we know that we can die too. When you have never been through a war, no matter how old you are, you are still a rookie!

That day, we gather to make the announcement. Despite the chosen words, the faces collapse, some shed a tear and fear sets in, people worry about themselves, their home.

March 18th, the frontline is already beginning to crackle. We cannot blame them. Fear has settled in, but adrenaline and courage too. They help us to remain united, to tell ourselves that together we will win. Teams work like never before, everyone has his job but not only. With the crisis, everyone is multitasking, to fill the gaps, to help his partner or just because we want to give the best of ourselves.

The enemy continues to infiltrate a trench, then two and then three trenches. It seems that despite our efforts we will not get out of it. Day or night, from one trench to another, it is tough. Our equipment weighs a ton, the helmet, the bullet guard, the rifle, and everything else… We must not forget anything and it is hard to breath.

Our “mentees” don’t really follow our instructions. They are asked to remain hidden but some walk around in the trench, allowing the enemy to progress. Many are wounded and then some fall. We cry, tears flow behind the masks. « Fucking war ».

We stand there in the middle of the battlefield, helpless. Some of my soldiers are hit, they may have held their rifle badly or maybe the best guy would still have been hit, who knows… I don’t care, they all fought with me, that’s all I’ll remember.

So, with my captains, we still had to be more vigilant, we tried to move the lines, to review the attack plan. Eventually, saliva and genius ideas are running out but no one lay down arms. Come on, don’t let go. If we let go, they all die!

We hang on, the headquarters help us, allies send us words of comfort, flowers, chocolates, cakes, food. They tell us how supportive they are, how proud they are that we are their soldiers, and not others. It feels good.

May 1st, 2020, 41 days and 41 nights. It looks like the sun is finally shining through, highlighting everything we have been able to protect. We are tired but feeling so good. Tomorrow will be another day.

To those we have lost, to those who have put their trust in us, to those who helped us,
To you my soldiers.
To all of us.

—————

Our caregivers-soldiers fought hard and I take my hat off to them. They showed me their unwavering commitment, their courage, the extent of our team cohesion and their kindness to patients. A real chain of solidarity has naturally been organized between them, carpooling, help for shopping, replacements and services of all kinds. Despite a significant number of employees affected by COVID, all returned to work as soon as possible to help their colleagues. Our team will come out scarred by this unprecedented crisis, but stronger than ever.

By Cédric BENS, director of the Ambroise Paré SSR clinic (Bondy)

——————-

An word to translate the atmosphere of these three months is HORROR.

(…) To fight this Horror, one word emerges: exceptional spontaneous solidarity with no counterpart. Carpooling, unfailing presence, supporting messages from families, a more authentic relationship with residents.

(…) Of course, there is an intense fatigue, the feeling of being knocked out, but this experience demonstrated that we can succeed collectively. It will remain, we hope, a great team story.

By Chantal Merel, director of the Saint Martin residence (Mougins)

Today, I feel serene. I know why I am here, and I am glad to live this containment with the residents and the staff of the residence La Joliette.

At La Joliette, even when I eat away from my friends, even with my mask, my gloves, my overshoes and my blouse, I feel close to them. There is no distancing between us as we are together on this ship that must keep moving. Containment then makes sense. I don’t feel like I’m “enduring” containment. Thanks to this hardship, I discovered a united team that can deal with a global health crisis in a good mood.

Marie, intern director of La Joliette (Marseille)

——————

Like the devil, we gave you several names,

(…)
The hardest part was forcing our residents to stay confined in a few square meters area,
To force families to move away,
Some have taken offense at all these measures,
Maybe we did the right, as you are so strong to cut the breath of elderly people.

(…)
You are still here, weakened, soon defeated,
Maybe you will come back and defy us?
I only hope that we will learn lessons from you,
And that those who know so well how to give lessons to others
Will recognize with humility that in this difficult period
We all had to adapt.
As a consequence, let’s keep in mind that without commitment, respect and cohesion,
We cannot protect ourselves from anything…

By Christelle Tremoulet, director of the Bois Joli residence (Bonnetage)