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Greek nurse erects ICU at home to treat relatives with Covid-19

What does a medical professional do when his wife and in-laws contract the disease at the center of a months-long pandemic? Gabriel Tachtatzoglou, a critical care nurse, did not feel good about the treatment options available in Greece’s second-largest city when his wife, both her parents and her brother came down with Covid-19 in November. Thessaloniki has been among the areas of Greece with the most confirmed coronavirus cases, and hospital intensive care units were filling up.

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

That decision, his family says, probably saved their lives.

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

Tachtatzoglou set up a makeshift ICU in the downstairs apartment of his family’s two-story home in the village of Agios Athanasios, located about 30 kilometers (nearly 20 miles) from the city. He rented, borrowed and modified the monitors, oxygen delivery machines and other equipment his loved ones might need.

He also improvised. Out of a hat stand, he fashioned an IV bag holder. At one point, the repurposed pole supported four bags dispensing antibiotics, fluids to address dehydration and fever-reducing medicine.

“I’ve been working in the intensive care ward for 20 years, and I didn’t want to put my in-laws through the psychological strain of separation. Plus, there was already a lot of pressure on the health service,” Tachtatzoglou told the AP in an interview.

In most countries, doctors and nurses are discouraged from treating close relatives and friends on the theory that emotional bonds could cloud their judgment and affect their skills. Tachtatzoglou says he remained in daily contact with doctors at Papageorgiou Hospital, the overwhelmed facility where he works, while caring for his sick family members, and that he would have hospitalized any of the four if they needed to be intubated.

“I looked after them up until the point where it would pose no danger,” he said. “At all times, I was ready to move them to the hospital, if needed.”

Full story on AP.

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One comment

  1. What a heartwarming story! “The need is the mother of solutions!” He used his skills to save his family instead of sitting with his arms crossed. A man with a big heart!