But Covid-19 as collateral damage
Friday evening 8p.m. The nurse on duty calls Dr Ursula Buck on her mobile. A patient and his son have just arrived from Chincheros, Apurímac. He is suffering from severe eye pain and appears to need emergency treatment.
The ophthalmologist makes her way through the dark of night, no one to be seen far and wide, since Peru is in quarantine and the curfew starts at 6p.m.
In the Eye Clinic she finds the 77-year-old man. At the health station the patient was given a face mask N 95, an eye bandage, a referral and a Covid-19 quick test. This primary care was truly exemplary. The result of the quick test was negative which made the whole thing much more relaxed.
Having carefully peeled off the eye bandage one could see the damage: the right eye is perforated and the eye’s content had prolapsed. This was caused by a broken through cornea ulcer. The patient had noticed a white spot in his eye. But because his eye hurt and because he was not able to go to an eye specialist because of the quarantine he tried to treat himself with rewetting drops. Finally, he started bleeding out of his eye; a real tragedy. Had one been able to treat him in time one could have saved both the eye and its visual ability. But both were sadly lost due to the Covid-19-quarantine.
In order to get to Curahuasi, six hours away, his son rented a car and drove his father. On the way they passed several police checkpoints easily, because he had a referral from the Posta and a negative Covid-test.
The next day Dr Buck and her team were able to operate on the patient under general anaesthetic. He had to wear a fixed eyepatch for two days. 4 days after the operation a prosthesis could be made for him. He was very thankful that he no longer suffered any pain and bore the loss of his eye in a composed manner.
His son, however, lost it on the third day after the operation – despite this being successful – and broke down during the visitation. It turned out that the whole situation in the Corona-crisis had brought him to the limits of his emotional load-bearing capacity. Fortunately the hospital psychologist was able to take time to speak with him at length.
The good news is that in the meantime the patient was admitted home. Father and son expressed their heartfelt thanks maintaining the required distance.