The resistant and historian waited 24 hours on a stretcher from the Paris Lariboisière hospital before being taken care of. Blind, and admitted for a long Covid, she denounces “the lamentable state of the health sector” in an open letter to the director of the AP-HP.
It is a nightmare that lived Madeleine Riffaud. This 98-year-old World War II resistance fighter, poet, journalist and historian, spent 24 hours in the emergency room of Lariboisière hospital on a stretcher without being taken care of.
With our colleagues from the magazine Communeshe publishes an open letter to the director of the AP-HP Nicolas Revel in which she denounces “the lamentable state of the health sector”.
It all starts on September 4th. The nonagenarian goes to the emergency room of the Parisian hospital “for an important examination due to a long Covid”, she says. On her arrival, Madeleine Riffaud is not directly taken care of, she is left in a corridor.
“The nurses were running in there, overwhelmed. They were handing out ‘I’m coming!’ and ‘it works!’. ‘I’m coming, I’m coming!’, but no one was coming. Never”, she confides.
“A No Man’s Land”
While the historian is blind, she is brought on a stretcher here and there, without being informed of her care.
“I was left there, without any business, without any means of communication with my relatives,” she berates.
After twelve hours of waiting, the resistance fighter manages to get a glass of water, but that will be little consolation.
“I stayed twenty-four hours on the same stretcher, without eating anything, in a no man’s land”, she underlines.
By dint of waiting, idle, the nonagenarian is transferred to a private clinic, the day after her admission to the hospital, “without ever having informed my relatives”. Worse, she claims to be “the third wandering soul that this clinic received that day”.
“The problems are always the same”
From this unfortunate episode, Madeleine Riffaud now wants to make an opportunity to alert the public authorities. She also knows the hospital sector well since she published a book in 1974 in which she tells the inside of a cardiovascular surgery department of a Parisian hospital, Linens of the night. Already at the time, she denounced the lack of means of the nursing staff.
“We had agreed on all points. Everyone is in agreement, except the governments which follow each other and which, at best, do not move,” she recalls.
Nearly 50 years later, she notes that “the problems are still the same: lack of qualified personnel, lack of credit, the gap is widening between the technique of cutting-edge medicine and the means made available to it”.
For her, the pandemic has only worsened the care of patients. “They thought I was too old to be worth treating myself (reflex taken during the Covid epidemic?)”, she writes.
“My fate is that of millions of Parisians and French people”
But the nonagenarian specifies not “to attack the staff (…) who are exhausted. The State has abandoned them all, caregivers as well as patients.” Moreover, she does not make her case an exception.
“My misadventure is a daily story in the hospital in France. My fate is that of millions of Parisians and French people.”
She assures “not to have come out unscathed” from this event. “When we enter the infernal circuit, when we are sucked into the nothingness of the emergency room, we cannot come out of it unscathed. Sometimes, we don’t even come out of it alive…”, she underlines. Last week, an 81-year-old patient died in the emergency room in Strasbourg after waiting more than twenty hours.
The resistant concludes her letter by confiding that she wants to be their “voice as Raymond Aubrac – resistant during the Second World War – had asked me to be one of those of the Resistance – so I will be. I still have a little by force, it is to give it”.
The director of Paris hospitals, Nicolas Revel has not, for the time being, responded to this letter.