Doctors Without Borders to help in elderly care homes as Covid toll rises

·2-min read

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is calling for volunteers to create mobile teams to help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in elderly care homes in the Paris area. This comes as staff in these establishments struggle to deal with rising infection rates.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), known as Doctors without Borders, says it will focus its energies on building five to ten small teams of doctors who can visit nursing homes in the Paris area in the coming weeks.

The humanitarian organisation says it had already established this kind of help for over 50 centres during the first wave of the pandemic, and saw the need to continue with their efforts.

"Keeping in line with our work to help those who have little or no access to healthcare, we wish to accompany establishments that have little or no medical structure in place," MSF’s research director Dr Jean-Hervé Bradol told AFP.

Employed by the NGO, the teams would be made up of a doctor, a nurse, and a psychologist, he explained.

"The Ephad (nursing homes) need reinforcement to help care with sick people housed there," he said, adding that often these care homes had very little onsite medical facilities.

As well as helping nursing staff with medical procedures, the teams would be on hand to "give advice on how to curb the spread of the virus and to continue organising family visits in safe conditions," he continued.

Psychological support

MSF also considers the work important in terms of offering pyschological support for the staff and the residents and providing assistance to install equipment such as oxygen machines.

While the programme is being launched in the Ile-de-France area, the NGO is looking at extending the service to other regions in France.

The situation has become tense in many care homes (or Ephads) around France as staff find themselves overwhelmed with work, and hospitals across the country are increasingly full of serious Covid cases.

One example is the L’EHPAD de Cayres in the Haute-Loire region which has seen their Covid infections shoot up in past weeks, with 33 positive cases out of 60 residents, as well as several deaths.

The staff, some of whom have been infected, are physically and mentally under increasing strain.

In response to the situation, the management has resorted to calling for volunteers in the medical sector from a nearby psychiatric hospital, supported by the medical unions.

The death toll from Covid 19 has reached a total of 42 535 -- 13 263 of those in elderly care homes, according to French authorities.