There is a lot to do – where do we start?
6a.m. The day starts with the first of 54 phone calls. We are desperately looking for two doctors with intensive care experience. But where can we get such qualified staff? One can’t that easily magic them out of a hat. Even the Peruvian State desperately wants to fill 1,000 vacancies. And might we be able to find two respirators? But the market has none to give. Complete sell out. The phone-calls are made in rapid succession. In the USA we order a further oxygen generator, but how long will it be until the airfreight arrives in Peru?
Finally I have him on the phone. The former President of the Anaesthetist Society promises me that he will actively look for a doctor: “I have the contacts of 3,000 doctors,” he tells me, “But naturally most of them are bound by work-contracts!”
I write to an old email-contact quite out of the blue. Then, minutes later an answer with a current phone number. An appointment is made. It will be a hard task to convince the taxi-driver to drive so far out of Lima. But finally we find our taxi. Thus at 3:30p.m. Steven de Jager and I speak to Acsai’s President. He is head of a Christian doctor network: “In the next 48 hours I will ring round and hope to be able to help!” Dr Ruben Sifuente’s confirmation (centre of the above picture) is encouraging.
Training at the Hospital Diospi Suyana. In faraway Curahuasi doctors and nurses are learning more and more what could be coming their way, if a miracle does not happen. The mood improved when 1,500 astronaut suits were delivered. But the statistics show that despite protective clothing medical staff are at high risk of contracting Corona.
Many tough nuts have to be cracked in Lima. Via the phone I request a conversation with one of the President’s advisors. But he is in quarantine. No one answers the phone of the Health Minister’s Office, but the deputy’s secretary answers our summons. But can that result in a top-level meeting? Only God knows.
Doris Manco makes contact to the president of a large Church federation, or rather to his office. Networking is key now. Establishing and enlarging one’s network.
A deep voice answers the phone: “I might have a respirator for you!” Immediately I am wide awake. That would be too good to be true. And what about the price? “That I can tell you tomorrow!” The company’s director remains secretive. We arrange to meet tomorrow at 10a.m. on the condition that the device is still available.
Together with some colleagues my wife Martina is drafting a text addressed to the regional government. The cooperation agreement must be filled with life. So put your money where your mouth is. In the Guesthouse Steven is carefully checking the figures. Some minor changes. How will the Governor react?
8p.m. In the next-door house opposite a young lady is playing the Peruvian National Anthem on her trumpet out into the night. Many people are standing at their windows listening. They have heard this melody umpteen times. But this time it is about human solidarity, it goes without saying. Lasting applause once the last note has faded.
Steven and I speak for a long time about possible rules for the Ethics Commission. Ten respiratory places, but perhaps we will need ten times that. Who will then be allowed to live? Who must die? “But whatever we do, we will feel guilty afterwards!“ I say and Steven nods.
It is silent outside. No car passes. No laughing. No music. Tomorrow men in Peru are allowed out to go outside their front door to go shopping. On Saturday it’s the women’s turn.
I write the news bulletin for the website and pray. One should sleep at night and no one knows what tomorrow will bring. /KDJ