in military hospitals, “patients are surging”

The army general doctor, Maryline Gygax Généro, with an officer from Operation Barkhane, in the Sahel, in 2017.
The army general doctor, Maryline Gygax Généro, with an officer from Operation Barkhane, in the Sahel, in 2017.

Maryline Gygax Généro, 60, general doctor of the armies and specialist in pulmonology, is the central director of the army health service (SSA) since 2017. Major of her promotion in 1983 and patented in aeronautical medicine, she began her career at the Desgenettes military hospital in Lyon (Rhône), before exercising responsibilities in that of Metz (Moselle), then in Val-de-Grâce, in Paris, and in Bégin, in Saint-Mandé (Val-de-Marne ).

The director answered questions from World, Saturday, March 21, on the involvement of the armies in this crisis. According to her, the Covid-19 pandemic is a matter of “Absolutely exceptional circumstances”.

As a pulmonology specialist, how do you assess, as a doctor, the coronavirus pandemic?

These are absolutely exceptional circumstances. There were thought-out, feared scenarios of this type. But it is true that the speed of the pandemic’s expansion, its global nature, surprises us, because this virus is unknown. It forces us to adapt. This breaking wave is testing us all.

What are, to date, the means implemented by the health service of the armies, which was already under great tension before this ordeal and which, let us remember, has 14,800 personnel, 70% of whom are soldiers, with eight hospitals of instruction (HIA)?

All the service is mobilized, up to our students, who are no longer in class at the faculty and will come to reinforce. Every day, 2,000 people are either on alert, on call, or on external operations. I am proud of my staff. They cope with exceptional commitment, creativity and a sense of duty, and this unfailing commitment is made in accordance with the primary mission of our service, which is the medical support of armies and their operations.

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Military training hospitals are involved in the care of Covid-19. The patients are surging. Our capacities are not yet saturated. We have 117 intensive care beds in five hospitals (Bégin, Percy, Sainte-Anne, Laveran and Clermont-Tonnerre) and we are ramping up for dedicated beds (40 today). But the HIA of Metz sees visibly the number of patients treated increasing. We have resuscitation anesthesiologists inserted in the regional hospital center and our Legouest hospital has transformed all of its medical beds. However, we will not abandon the other patients and we must remain mobilized for the wounded soldiers who would be repatriated from operations if necessary.

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