In this service of the CHU of Bordeaux confronted, like many others, with the epidemic of bronchiolitis, the childcare workers have been working understaffed for two nights.

“The lack of staff has been lacking for some time and there it is exponential. We operate in degraded mode permanently”, notes Barbara Delluc, health manager, leaning against a wall of the service.

In a tense context, practitioners suffer. “We manage to help each other but sometimes it’s hard to get the upper hand (…) We don’t adapt, we do it day by day, hour by hour, from patient to patient”, abounds the one of the nurses.

On a team of seven, two are missing. No other solution than to “stand up”: “are they going to last all winter like that?” Asks their manager, who says he has picked up some of them in tears on the phone, “limited to bursting “.

The bronchiolitis epidemic is causing an increase in activity: the pediatric emergencies of Pellegrin currently record 180 to 190 daily passages, against 100 to 120 ordinarily, indicates Professor Olivier Brissaud, head of the pediatric intensive care unit.

But in the corridors, all the caregivers say it: it is not the bronchiolitis that “poses a problem” but the lack of staff. The epidemic adds to an “already very altered situation in terms of reception”, affirms Mr. Brissaud.

For the CGT and Sud unions, the crisis was “predictable”. They claim to have alerted management internally for a year. A strike took place in the spring in pediatric emergencies to demand recruitment.

– Lack of beds –

In the event of an influx of patients, in principle, the hospital opens additional beds in annexes. This time, “not only were we unable to open any and we have fewer beds”, adds the head of department, referring to regular closures.

“The situation has worsened a lot with the Covid crisis”, continues Barbara Delluc. According to the manager, the difficult working conditions lead to many departures and “many nursing students stop during their three years of training”.

A situation that forces you to do with the means at hand. Consultation rooms are converted into hospitalization rooms. The rooms that previously housed a child are divided into several boxes separated by curtains, where worried parents watch over their children while waiting for the nurses to pass.

“We would have liked to have a little more intimate space”, testifies Magali, scientific researcher, seated in one of the boxes alongside her sick son. She came to the emergency room the day before on the advice of the attending physician because of multiple pathologies – gastroenteritis, otitis, angina, dehydration.

The boy received first aid after “four-five hours”: the mother considers it “complicated” to wait so long but considers herself “privileged” compared to other parents who have to wait even longer.

Like Hélène, the hostess, who paces in a hallway. Her son, seated behind her, a bandage on his left wrist, has been waiting for more than fifteen hours for suspected appendicitis. “It’s hard to make a six-year-old child wait, he doesn’t understand,” she says in the face of the situation.

On October 25, the management of the CHU activated its white plan for the pediatric sector, unheard of “over the last fifteen years” for an epidemic of bronchiolitis “which we should be able to anticipate”, estimates Mr. Brissaud.

The practitioner participated in a meeting at the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, at the end of which additional financial aid was announced. “Measures” that will not change anything, in the opinion of a nurse from Pellegrin. “We no longer believe in it”, abounds a trade unionist.