JGH's Dr. Michel de Marchie helps severely ill COVID-19 patients

Dr. Michel de Marchie of the Jewish General Hospital.

When one talks about working on the front line in fighting the COVID-19 virus, Dr. Michel de Marchie of the Jewish General Hospital more than qualifies.

Dr. de Marchie is an intensivist, working primarily in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

“In this period, we’re basically dedicated to admitting and taking care of patients who are severely ill from COVID-19,” he pointed out. “It’s extremely busy at the hospital right now. You have to understand that every COVID-19 patient that is admitted is admitted because they’re critically ill, and they usually require, though not necessarily all the time, a high concentration of oxygen or putting in a tube to control their breathing.

“When they are isolated in negative pressure rooms, precautions regarding dressing and undressing are taking place. There are usually two or three nurses looking after one patient, because it’s very demanding for the personnel, but we’re handling the situation extremely well.”

Regarding his own precautions, Dr. de Marchie said he normally dresses in civilian clothing, “but this time I have scrubs, I wear a mask all the time, my IPhone is in a zip-lock bag, I clean my phone several times a day, I clean my hands every five minutes and even more so sometimes, and when I go into a room, I’m appropriately dressed. I also bought special glasses to protect myself.”

We pointed out that, unfortunately, numerous health workers in highly stricken Italy have contracted the virus.

“That government, as was the case in many countries, was not pro-active, compared to the Quebec government, and even where governments were pro-active, there were a lot of slips,” he explained. “What they are emphasizing to the population is keeping distances and quarantining, because that’s what you need to do, because otherwise, the system breaks down and we don’t want to be in the same situation as Italy. We are not. We also have more ICUs for a population of eight million in Quebec than they had in Italy [for their population].”

As for the general population, Dr. de Marchie, from his front line point of view, says they absolutely must follow the government’s COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

“Follow, to the tee, the directives established by the municipal authorities, but also by the government — this is not a joke,” he emphasized. “You have to take this literally, and quarantine is extremely important to stop the propagation of the virus. Your readers have to understand that COVID-19 is an extremely transmittable virus. The quarantine will allow us to flatten the curve, as people at the ministry level are saying.”

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