Fallen heroes

By Sarah RaparoliLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Initially acclaim, now hostility: Health workers increasingly face verbal hostility and growing aggression. Two women from the health sector report on their everyday lives.

March 2020. The coronavirus has the world in its grip. There is gridlock as global lockdowns force people to stay at home and only go out the door for the bare necessities. At this time, solidarity towards people in the health sector is remarkable: contacts are reduced so as not to overburden the health system, in the evenings people applaud the many people who give their best every day to save the lives of others. "Some even felt sorry for us", Emily* (name changed by the editors) remembers the time two years ago.

Before her employment in Luxembourg, she completed her training in Germany. "In the beginning, the people, but also the staff themselves, were tense and stressed. We didn't know what to expect. People were very understanding, the feedback was super-positive. We were thanked and they really appreciated what we did." In November 2020, Emily starts her job as a nurse in an emergency room in Luxembourg. The atmosphere has become more heated, the tone more aggressive, she says. "With the start of the vaccination campaign and the second lockdown, there were more people asking questions like 'How long do we have to wait?! This is unacceptable!' or 'You are very unprofessional!' Some were convinced they were in charge the moment the stepped through the door."

The mid-20-year-old recounts an incident that occurred during a night shift. An intoxicated couple was brought in by ambulance. After the usual medical checks, they were discharged because no abnormalities were found. "Both wanted to go home by ambulance because – according to their explanation – they had been taken to hospital by one. However, we told them that this was not possible – and then it started." Their demand could not be met because, "insured persons must obtain a medical prescription from the attending physician stating the medical reasons justifying transport in a recumbent or immobilised position for the outward or return journey", according to the National Health Insurance Fund's statement.

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