Greek nurse built ICU at home to treat relatives suffering from the virus

AGIOS ATHANASIOS, Greece (AP) – What does a medical professional do when his wife and in-laws contract the disease at the center of a month-long epidemic?

Critical care nurse Gabriel Takhtajoglu did not feel good about the treatment options available in Greece’s second-largest city when both his wife, his parents, and brothers came with COVID-19 in November. Thessaloniki has been in the regions of Greece with the most confirmed coronovirus cases, and hospitals were filling intensive care units.

Tachtatzoglou, who had to quarantine and could not go to work after being tested positive for the virus by his relatives, decided to use the ICU experience by seeing himself.

This decision, his family says, probably saved his life.

“If we had gone to the hospital, I don’t know where we would have ended up,” said Polioni Stergi, the nurse’s 64-year-old mother-in-law. “That didn’t happen, thank you my son-in-law.”

Tachtatzoglou established a makeshift ICU in the apartment below his family’s two-story house in Agios Athanasios village, located about 30 kilometers (about 20 mi) from the city. They rented, borrowed and modified monitors, oxygen delivery machines, and other equipment that their loved ones might need.

He also improved. Out of a hat stand, she fashioned an IV bag holder. At one point, the reconstructed poll supported addressing four bags of antibiotics, fluid dehydration and fever-reducing medication.

“I have been working in the intensive care ward for 20 years, and I did not want to put my in-laws through the psychological stress of isolation. Also, there was already a lot of pressure on the healthcare, ”Takhtajoglu told the AP in an interview.

In most countries, doctors and nurses are discouraged from treating close relatives and friends on the principle that emotional bonds may cloud their judgment and affect their skills. Tachtatzoglou says he kept in daily contact with doctors at Papageorgiou Hospital, the overwhelmed facility where he works, while he takes care of his ailing family members, and that they would be around if they needed to be intubated Will hospitalize anyone from

“I took care of him as long as it was not a threat,” he said. “All the time, I was ready to take them to the hospital when needed.”

Greece, with a population of 10.7 million, spent the first phase of the coronavirus epidemic with the lowest infection rate in Europe. As the cold weather settled, the number of confirmed cases and virus deaths began to double. The country’s cumulative deaths in the epidemic occurred at toll 1 from 393 to 1 October and 635 a month later at 2,517. As of Tuesday, it stood at 4,730.

Pushed with the capacity of ICU wards in Thessaloniki, COVID-19 patients were deemed too ill to wait for beds, which were taken to hospitals in other parts of Greece, in torpedo-shaped treatment capsules Were on board. Meanwhile, the situation of Tachtzoglu’s family worsened as his wife and in-laws fell ill in a dangerous succession.

Tachtatzoglou said that he was constantly agonizing over whether to move his relatives to hospitals in Thessalonica, knowing that they would not see each other and might move to distant hospitals.

“We were short of tears. At times I was desperate, and I was afraid that I would lose them, ”the nurse said.

They pulled through it all, although Tachtatzoglou eventually became infected with the virus.

“I took care when I treated him, but I didn’t have the personal safety gear that you find in hospitals,” he said. “Maybe that’s why I got sick.”

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