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Spanish nurses, witnesses of the loneliness of COVID-19

BARCELONA (AP) – For Marta Fernández, the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic hitting Spain has been less traumatic from a medical point of view than the first outbreak in spring.

But seeing her patients die in the Barcelona hospital where she works as a nurse, without the visit of her family or friends, in a sad loneliness forced by the disease, is not easier.

“The worst thing about this pandemic is seeing how patients deal alone with the entire disease process, even death,” said Fernández. “Seeing them die alone is the hardest thing of all.”

Fernández, who has worked at Hospital del Mar for more than 25 years, is one of those that have helped patients emotionally manage the isolation of being hospitalized with COVID-19.

The virus reduces their world to a hospital ward and, in the absence of their loved ones, they are deeply grateful for the care of the nurses.

Fernández holds a tablet on the chest of María Teresa Argullos Bove, 94, so she can talk to her sister, her children and her grandchildren from her hospital bed.

One of his relatives asks him when he is going home. “I can’t get out yet,” Argullos replied, adding “but soon, soon” while blowing kisses towards the screen.

Ana Aguilar, a 20-year-old nursing assistant, asked one of her patients, a woman in her last days of life, if there was anything she could do for her. The patient told him that she wanted to eat salmorejo, a traditional tomato soup.

Aguilar prepared it at home and took it to the hospital. “Rich, rich, rich,” he says he said after each spoonful.

Elisa Martínez Sedano, 71, said that after spending three weeks in the hospital, she was “eternally grateful” to the nurses.

“Because you don’t have your family here, there are only them, they are the ones who take care of you,” he said.