With positive and negative moments, 2021 is coming to an end and what it generated leaves an imprint on the destiny of the person, family, the country. IPN spoke with those who care and have what to say about victories and failures, hopes and letdowns, achievements and losses. How was 2021 for the man and doctor Alexandru Botizatu, head of the Reanimatology and Intensive Care Department of the Republican Clinical Hospital.
After a tumultuous November 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic reached an apogee, 2021 came as ‘a breath of fresh air’ for the health system. But the euphoria didn’t last long. The winter holidays during which the restrictions were mostly neglected and the British variant of the virus swiftly pushed the statistics of new cases and deaths up. The ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ was seen in March, together with the start of the vaccination campaign. Doctor Alexandru Botizatu was among the first who got a vaccine and urged everyone to follow his example. Unexpected reactions followed. He was blamed and accused of promoting businesses, of being an actor who mimicked vaccination. It was disheartening for him and when he got the booster those, he didn’t make this public.
The doctor notices a direct connection between the level of education and the acceptance of vaccine. He regrets that those who are educated, from the health system as well, include vaccine skeptics. In a village in southern Moldova, all the locals refused to get vaccinated because the family doctor told them that vaccination is not good. When the immunization process only began, when there were a lot of questions, such concerns were somehow understood, but today the calls not to get vaccinated should be condemned.
April 2021 came with a considerable decline in the number of new cases of COVID-19. The pressure diminished and many of the doctors even managed to go on leave. September started quietly, but continued with a new wave that was felt in a different way than the wave of the autumn of 2020, namely due to the profile of the patient with COVID-19. The persons under intensive therapy included primarily those who didn’t get vaccinated, who didn’t believe in the existence of the virus or in the efficacy of the vaccine. The number of new cases diminished in the second half of November, while the beds in intensive care units in December were only half used. The doctors could relax slightly and could focus on chronic diseases to help patients with chronic gastritis, cholecystitis, heart diseases or chronic lung diseases.
2021 leaves doctor Alexandru Botizatu with a huge wish to be near the family. The professional duties didn’t allow him to spend many Sundays and bank holidays near the dear ones. The children feel his absence and ask him to take them home from school and kindergarten at least once a week, to promise them that they will spend together the “next” Sunday. But they are yet very proud of the work done by their father. The older daughter who is in the sixth grade spoke about this in her school projects. Until recently, she was determined to follow in her father’s footsteps, but his tight schedule makes her ponder over as she does not imagine being away from her family for so long.
Each day on the way to work he promises to himself not to become involved emotionally. It is better so if he wants to help his patients. But being near those who are under intensive care is a challenge. Too many lives are claimed too early there. “The wife could not tell their child where his father was. I saw the face of that young man each day during a long period of time. I remembered him begging for assistance. He died”. “Those who are aged 80-90 also want to live. You should see that older woman aged 81 how much she wants to live. Each day matters for her. She wants to see her grandchildren. When you see her wrinkled hands, you think that she worked a lot and you try to help her. I daily tell myself to show minimum empathy as my work is affected, but I cannot. You every time want to cry. It is very painful,” said Alexandru Botizatu. The relatives are often angry that they are not allowed to see the patient with COVID-19 the last time to say goodbye to this. They doubt the doctors did everything to save him/her and say “you let them die”.
“There are evenings when I do not speak at all at home. I become irascible and start to shout. If I do not talk I feel even more nervous. I see images of those who died. Even if there are cases with happy ending, happiness is much more inferior to the feelings of sadness experienced when a patient dies,” confessed the doctor. The doctors are also humans and sometimes need assistance and emotional support, primarily during this difficult period.
The doctors, as the others, want to return to the life before the pandemic. Before the pandemic, Alexandru Botizatu went to the theater and managed to see all the plays of a season. For a year he hasn’t seen any play. “I’m sad as many people are unvaccinated. I wish the people trusted the doctors more. I wish the government came closer to the people. The current political system should be closer to the people. It is a distant one. There could be some strategic policies, but these are cold. The people need people, but they feel marginalized,” stated Alexandru Botizatu.
2021 leaves him with hope that the number of infections will decline and the next variants of the virus will not be so aggressive, that the vaccination pace will be stepped up and collective or acquired immunity will be secured. He is hopeful that we are and will remain a “living’ world. “A change in the people’s attitude to fellows is needed. We should rejoice at each other’s results. I’m sad, but I’m also optimistic that we will not go towards an era of technical people after we get rid of the pandemic,” said the doctor.