“MY father entered hospital with a fractured hip and died of Covid-19,” says Julian Sánchez, a TV producer living in Madrid.
This candid statement, recorded in a piece to camera, puts to bed the idea that coronavirus is just a common flu.
Under normal circumstances, few should think twice about calling an ambulance to send their 78-year-old father to hospital after a fall.
But it was a visit to to Madrid’s Hospital Severo Ochoa that Julian Sánchez maintains killed his father.
“Emergencies was saturated by the tsunami of people who had gone with problems related to COVID-19,” Sánchez recalls of the night on March 16, when the south Madrid hospital overflowed into the halls with patients.
“My dad had to wait more than 24 hours until they managed to give him a bed, surrounded by patients and exposed to risk.”
Six days later, Juan Sánchez Sr was dead.
“They called us early in the morning to say there was nothing they could do for him anymore,” Julian Sánchez Jr continues
“His organs had started to fail; it was a matter of hours. My brothers came to see him one last minute but my father was unconscious. Meanwhile my mother was home, alone, destroyed, and unable to even say goodbye.
“We didn’t even know where his body was. We have been fighting for four days [as of March 26] to find and bury him.
“We are devastated we were not able to accompany him during the last moments. My father did not understand what was happening to him. We managed to speak a couple of times, but he was disoriented, saying that he didn’t know where he was, that he couldn’t find his wallet. We believe they later sedated him so he would not suffer.
“My father was not afraid of death, he even joked about it. But he had hand-built an alcove for him in his hometown to be buried there – he did not want to be cremated.”
In a city where authorities are routinely burning all coronavirus victims, this last request is still in the air.
But Sánchez hopes his story carries an important message for everyone in Spain: if you have to go to hospital, wear protection.
“Anyone who suffers an accident at home, don’t go to hospital – or go private. Hundreds are dying daily. Everything is contaminated.
“I only ask that, if you have to go to hospital, vulnerable people must find the materials we need to protect ourselves. Because if we don’t, many will enter hospital to never leave again.”