Carlos Castillo, a doctor of the Regulo Pachano Hospital in Maracaibo, died on June 25, in the emergency room of the same health center where he worked. A respiratory arrest ended his life, in what, his colleagues and their guild say, was associated with the COVID-19.
He is the fifth such case of a doctor who died of COVID-19. The president of the Zulia State Medical Association, Dianela Parra, reported another 47 physicians showing symptoms, as the Coronavirus seems to be peaking in Venezuela, now adding more than 1,000 new cases per week.
Maracaibo, capital of the Zulia state, has surged as major flashpoints for contagion, given its lawless border with Colombia, and nearby Dutch Caribbean island states.
“Dr. Carlos Castillo represented a true example of study and personal sacrifice in his dedication and devotion to service during this pandemic until the end of his life, in the same hospital where he offers his work, and we saw him leave,” the guild stated.
Dozens of other physicians could also suffer Castillo’s destiny, the guild warned in an electronic communication El Pitazo accessed to.
“Our situation in Zulia is truly alarming. We have five colleagues who have died in the service due to contagion, and we have four in the Intensive Care Unit,” said the president of the Zulia State Medical Association, Dianela Parra, in an audio message sent to her colleagues on Friday, June 26.
In the audio file, she specifies there are 47 doctors infected with COVID-19. “Some are in hotels (the Maduro regime has made them into makeshift shelters), and others are at home.”
Dr. Parra points out the inconsistencies in government figures, “How many deaths will certainly be in the community of sick patients? How is it that Venezuela has such a low number of deaths, and we, only the doctors, have five in one week? There is a criminal under-reporting here. Someone will have to answer for that.”
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No supplies for doctors
Parra, who is also a lawmaker in the National Assembly, claimed that the doctors are working with risks. “It is not possible that doctors working without personal protection in 80, and I would say, in 90 percent of public hospitals and clinics.”
She said doctors are only given a mask for a 24-hour shift, in some cases. “In others, they have to bring the masks themselves. They don’t have supplies, no alcohol, gel, water, restrooms, and in terms of patient care, there are only seven operating beds in the ICU of University Hospital.”
Parra claimed that they need mechanical breathing equipment to that Intensive Care Units work properly. “We need to guarantee water, we need hydration and food for the staff, we need restrooms, we need antibiotics, we need all the requirements that must be met for the protocol to guarantee the confirmation of the disease: the rapid tests, and the PCR test.”
She denounced that for two years, the laboratory of the Maracaibo University Hospital, which is a sentinel, is closed. “I don’t know if they have authorized it these days to do hematology, at least. None of the hospitals have state-of-the-art imaging services if anything they can do is a chest x-ray.”
The president of the College of Physicians said she feels powerless because she doesn’t know what else to do. She explained that she approached regional and national agencies, and the situation has not improved. “We are in a catastrophe, and we need help because otherwise, this focus will continue to grow.”