Coronavirus patients, families exchanging virtual kisses in Italian hospitals | Instant News


CERNUSCO SUL NAVIGLIO, Italy (Reuters) – This is just a kiss blown through a video call on a tablet computer to a loved one a mile away.

A patient suffering from coronavirus (COVID-19) uses a tablet to talk to a relative who cannot visit, at the Cernusco sul Naviglio hospital in Milan, Italy, 7 April 2020. REUTERS / Flavio Lo Scalzo

But for elderly patients suffering from the corona virus at Uboldo Hospital in this northern Italian city, it’s the same as their oxygen savior.

Doctors throughout Italy, the country with the most deaths due to a pandemic, say one of the hardest things for patients is not being able to have their loved ones on their side because of quarantine restrictions.

“From a psychological point of view, this is certainly the worst aspect of this emergency,” said the hospital’s chief anesthesiologist, Dr. Massimo Zambon.

So, Zambon and his colleagues use tablets donated by the city and private residents to ease distance pain and loneliness. Most patients are elderly and do not know how to use tablets, so hospital staff make calls and raise them to their faces.

“At present, this is the only possible solution, the easiest and most effective way to create contact between patients and families,” Zambon said.

“And I must say, this is highly valued by patients, but especially by relatives at home who are worried and are waiting for news,” he said, speaking in the hospital corridor.

More than 17,000 people have died of the corona virus in Italy. The relatively small Uboldo Hospital is in the Lombardy region, which has borne the burden of the epidemic.

About 90% of Uboldo patients are victims of coronavirus. Since the crisis began, hospitals have doubled the number of beds to try to cope.

On Tuesday morning, the doctor wearing protective equipment removed an oxygen mask from the face of an old man and lifted the tablet.

The man waved and a relative at the other end of the telephone gave him a kiss. It lasts less than a minute and then the oxygen mask turns on again.

“Video calls are obviously short because there are lots of things to do. This call is rather cold because there is no real contact between people when they talk, so obviously everything is more difficult, “Zambon said.

In another room, a 69-year-old woman is being tested to see if she has a virus, and staff lift the tablet so she can see her family.

“If I had it, I would stay here, otherwise I would go home,” said the woman. “They are all efficient here, they are fine … they are all angels here, really, if not for them and the sacrifices they made …”

There is no need for him to finish the sentence. Everyone on both sides knew exactly what he meant.

Writing by Philip Pullella; Editing by Leslie Adler

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