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By KELIN DILLON

According to data from Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Health, 82 percent of the 54,000 people hooked up to ventilators to treat covid-19 complications later died from the virus, exacerbated by inadequate staff experience with the technology.

Despite an earnest willingness to learn, health professionals could not magically receive the proper training to handle these devices overnight, said José Elizalde, head of pulmonology at the National Institute of Sciences Medical and Nutrition.

“It’s as if right now they asked me to handle a new jet,” explained the lung expert. “We crashed fon the runway, we all died. I see it in a very similar way. There are many places where people, with good spirits and disposition, really have very little training. But without proper technical knowledge, they are taking care of these patients and that is very unfortunate.”

According to Elizalde, learning the concepts of ventilators properly can take over three years of study for a critical degree, and after “still take two to three years to master mechanical ventilation.”

“Doctors and inhalation therapy nurses and technicians can’t just pull themselves out of a hat like this as an act of magic. They don’t exist,” said the doctor.

Jordana Lemus, leader of intensive care at the Manuel Gea González General Hospital, mentioned that even under the care of experts, patients on ventilators can die, with a 5 percent death rate in those cases. However, that figure is still considerably lower than Mexico’s reported ventilator death rate throughout the pandemic.

Lemus also pointed out how one positive outcome of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic is having a much larger number of health personnel who now know how to operate ventilators.

…March 26, 2021

 

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