“Covid, what an odyssey: since Christmas in solitary confinement and I still don’t see the end”

The testimony of a reader from Bergamo, MC, who tested positive at Covid-19 during the Christmas holidays: an odyssey made up of empty phone calls, long waits and bureaucracy.

On the morning of December 25 the first sneeze. In view of the – restricted – lunch with relatives, I decide to buy a quick swab to be performed at home. It gives me negative result.

On the morning of December 27th I wake up with a cough and no voice. I try to contact my GP by phone, in the hope that he can tell me what to do. No answer, no voicemail. I send an e-mail, again with no reply, not even automatic. I then go to the studio, intercom. The secretary answers me and hands me a piece of paper with the phone number of the substitute: the doctor is on vacation until January 3.

On 28 December, I was able to contact my GP’s replacement at the number provided. I tell the doctor about my symptoms and that I had performed a negative antigenic swab three days before, asking if in his opinion it was necessary to repeat the test, so that he can ascertain my negativity. I am hastily replied that it is not necessary. I therefore decide to independently purchase antigenic swabs to be carried out at home and I run them after a couple of hours, both of which give a positive result. From the evening I start to have a fever.

The next day, during the replacement’s shift, I try to contact the doctor by phone several times, without success. Not knowing what to do, I send a message communicating my positivity. I am contacted.

I report the phone call almost verbatim (I remember it very well), at the end of which I was hooked the phone in my face.

“Good morning doctor, you will have read my message, I have carried out an antigenic swab with a positive result, what is the procedure to follow?”

“Stay at home for ten or fifteen days and then book a tampon at the pharmacy”

“Do I have to book it myself? Shouldn’t a report be made? “

“Yes, you book it”

“Excuse me, the people I’ve been in contact with?”

“Let them stay at home too, you haven’t lost a leg, I’m busy, bye”.

I try to call the toll-free number available on the Ats page. I am redirected to an email address to which I write and will write over time, several times, in vain.

I try to call the substitute, without success. Hoping it will be useful again, I write a message kindly asking to be reported and to be able to receive sick days. I’m not helping. After several telephone attempts, in view of the end of the shift, I send a further message asking to be contacted by phone as soon as possible. This is also a hole in the water.

After calling several times on the afternoon of 29, I try again on December 30, during my shift. The phone number that was provided to me is disconnected. I find the number of the clinic where you work online. Luckily it rings.

After hours of trying, I find a voice on the other end of the phone. I share my positivity and, in response, I am asked what I want. Amazed, I reply that first of all I would have needed to have some days of exemption, since I could not go to work. I am asked for “the code”. Assuming it is the tax code, I hasten to retrieve it. I ask to wait a second (literally) and I am told that having patients waiting they cannot wait.

I understand the situation. I reply that I would need to have at least one minute available for support and that I would contact him later, if more available. I do not have the material time to ask for a time that I am told “okay” and I get the phone hooked in my face again. I make dozens and dozens of calls, without success. Thirty minutes before my shift ends, I start to find the phone off the hook.

On Friday 31 December, always during my shift hours, I find not only the telephone number that was given to me off the hook, but also that of the clinic. I have no possibility to contact the doctor, although no absence has been reported. I try to send a message explaining my situation again and asking to be contacted. Once again, I have no success.

Four days after the positive outcome of the unsanitary swab, five days from the communication of the symptoms, I am still not reported to Ats, as usual, by my GP’s replacement, nor have I had days off work or indications on how to treat myself . In order to stay home, I continue to take days off. I’ll never hear the substitute again.

Turning point of the calendar, we are on Saturday 1 January: fever and cough do not seem to diminish, so I decide to call the Continuity Welfare Service. I wait for hours, I can’t find an answer.

In the evening I set up at the table, this little effort causes me breathlessness and tachycardia, I’m scared but I try to make myself strong.

Upon awakening the breathlessness continues, this time even at complete rest. I do not hesitate any longer and I go to the emergency room. At the entrance there are no reports, I only discover after almost an hour of queuing that I could have done priority check-in at another counter. It doesn’t matter: finally, after a few hours of waiting, I manage to be visited and all the necessary tests are done. Once again the antigenic swab gives a positive result, a molecular swab is booked for the end of isolation on January 10th. I inform the doctor that, despite numerous attempts, I have never been reported as positive. He reassures me: “I have to do it, you don’t even need to ask”.

The next day, January 3, I am able to contact my attending physician. I tell what happened and I am given some days of exemption, up to 10 I can rest assured – I no longer have to subtract days of vacation from my, already undermined, summer. Everything seems to be going badly, for the better. I take a few days off and in fact, from January 6, I finally start to feel better: the fever disappears, the cough subsides. A little pink parenthesis that won’t last long.

On Monday 10th, as per the manual, I go to the tampon center indicated on the sheet that was given to me, I await my turn, I undergo the exam. On the way back, for safety, I access my Electronic Health Record and here is the terrible epiphany: yes, the report of the Emergency Department certifying my positivity is present, but the same is not reported in the section “COVID-19 test reports” on the page . Despite my recommendations, I have never been positive for Ats.

24 hours after my test here is the result: still positive. What I feared could happen actually begins to happen: the first message from the Ministry of Health arrives: “The green certification will be revoked”. The second message arrives without respite, this time from Ats, “Report Covid-19, enter your contacts”. I am sent back to a section where to book a molecular swab, there are no free slots before January 24th – considering the 24 hours for the outcome, we are talking about a minimum of thirty days of isolation.

On the seventeenth day of isolation I fall back into the spiral: I call the toll-free number available on the Ats website, after a process of minutes with a recorded voice I find myself facing a busy telephone (and I hope not disconnected). I do not give up and continue, undeterred, for hours, never being able to find anything other than a fearful “tuu, tuu, tuu” at the end of the process.

I send an email again to the address to which I had previously written and which I now find advertised everywhere, it remains unanswered. The region toll-free number and my GP cannot help me, they send me back to the rubber wall that I am trying in vain to contact. As a last resort, I try to make contact on the social channels available: I find nothing but a sea of ​​shipwrecked users like me.

The next day, which is the day I write to you, is a day of the marmot: calls and e-mails do not, as usual, have any effect. I’ve been in solitary confinement for 18 days. In three days, according to current legislation, I should be able to interrupt my isolation. I do not see, however, the end.

Despite the tiredness, putting down what happened is cathartic: a shared weight is lighter on the shoulders. So I thank you for taking a piece of my burden and paying your attention, which I know I have put to the test with a grueling tale. Almost as much as my experience.

Letter signed

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