Isn’t the epidemic the unfortunate revealer of an already critical situation in nursing homes?
The Covid-19 crystallizes and reveals a situation of past dysfunctions, a feeling of abandonment of our elders in nursing homes. Indeed, I believe it is a deep malaise in our societies. We have discredited the question of our elders, the question of dependence and the question of life in nursing homes. I took up the problem several years ago, denouncing a situation on the brink of human abuse due to a lack of human resources and a lack of materials. The financing of nursing homes is an old problem which unfortunately reappears at the worst possible time.
You denounce the impossible transparency in our EHPAD, what do you mean by this formula? More generally, what ethical problems do this health crisis pose today?
This is the enormous difficulty in reporting information on the real situation in the structures, in particular on the number of people infected and the number of people who died from the coronavirus. Some directors of these structures or even the regional health agencies (ARS) do not transmit the information sufficiently. The opacity and culture of secrecy in France aims to mask reality, either for fear of complaints from families, or by cultural reflex. We therefore need this transparency to draw all the lessons from this crisis tomorrow and improve life in our establishments welcoming dependent French people.
Beyond the EHPAD, there were contradictory injunctions from the government which told us in March that wearing a mask was useless, and in April it told us the opposite. Same thing for the tests. We said at the beginning that we shouldn’t test everyone when today we realize that the test is developing. I also want massive screening of all residents and nursing care staff. In addition, I plead for a cartography and a calendar department by department of the capacity to detect massively in the EHPAD. I want to emphasize the insufficient use of private clinics in connection with public hospitals. I am also concerned about the issue of confinement in nursing homes. There are 700,000 residents in these establishments in France. There is a lot of talk about respiratory distress, I’m afraid social distress will also do a lot of damage. I plead for the creation of a weekly visitation right by a single member of the family who would be tested negative beforehand in order to avoid breaking the social bond. It is essential to maintain a link with families.
Today, we have the impression of discovering the existence of these elderly or dependent people in nursing homes, and that, unfortunately, because of the massacre they suffer. Is there not a reflection to have on the vision that our society has on frailty, old age and dependence?
Of course, this is the question of intergenerational solidarity. One of the mistakes of Emmanuel Macron’s policy has been to pit generations against each other. On the contrary, I believe that there is a need for solidarity between the third and the fourth age. In the pension reform, I fought so that there is a fund which allows the financing dependency. When you are old, you have the right to a decent life, including when you are sick or disabled. This subject also concerns the new generations with whom it will be necessary to think about mechanisms of mutual assistance and solidarity between generations.
After all the controversies that the health crisis has caused, how are the Republicans? What is their role in the opposition?
The party chose a responsible but determined opposition. Obviously, we are for national unity, but that does not mean that the party made a blank check to the majority. National unity rests on a demand for transparency and a demand for truth. National unity, we do not owe it to the government, on the other hand we owe it to the white coats, to the French who are fighting on the front, to this France of work which keeps France standing. The role of Republicans is to be the “hotline” of territories and citizens’ expectations.
On a daily basis, we collect questions from the French on all subjects. Then we bring them back to the government and ask concrete questions without any taboos. Unlike Marine Le Pen or Jean-Luc Mélenchon, we are not in systematic criticism and do not entertain conspiracy theses. On the other hand, we demand from the government truth and transparency. Second, we ask him to clarify his strategy. First on containment; we can see that there is a relaxation because we talked about deconfinement too early. It is necessary that this confinement is imposed in all the territories of the Republic without exception, with the means to be able to impose it to avoid deconfinement which would be a failure. Tests and masks for all are essential for a peaceful preparation towards the exit from containment.
In terms of economic choice, the government has taken action. Some are positive, such as the use of partial unemployment. But we cannot be satisfied with cash flow measures. I am thinking in particular of lightening of charges for those who suffer the most: artisans, traders, restaurateurs, bar managers … I would like us to put in place a fund for intervention and support on the model of a simplified Intervention Fund for the Safeguarding of Crafts and Commerce (FISAC). I also want a clarification of the doctrine on how companies can work. We need to have a better understanding of working in confinement. Today, it is certain that there will be a lot of effort to be made to help our VSEs, our SMEs and all those who suffer in silence.
After more than a month of confinement, what lessons can we learn from the health crisis? More specifically, what about the hospital system of tomorrow?
There are two main lessons to be learned from the crisis. First, that of health sovereignty. France must regain its independence and its health sovereignty. We can no longer depend on the rest of the world and in particular on China for the production of masks, tests and gel. The relocation of national production in these areas is essential. It was not the companies that failed, but rather the strategic state. Second, we must regain our economic sovereignty. We can see it today, we need companies that produce locally, we need to consume local products. Regarding the hospital system of tomorrow, I was one of the first in France to say that the hospital public service should not suffer from any reduction in staff. There is a shortage of doctors, nurses and caregivers.
It is necessary to overhaul our health system. It has long been said to French people that they have the best health care system in the world. It’s wrong. We certainly have the best practitioners in the world, but the system is broken because it cannot get the minimum medical supplies. The EHPAD of tomorrow is an establishment connected with the outside, with social animation but also and above all an establishment in which we respect the dignity of the human person so that everyone can enjoy the last years of their life with dignity.
At the party of Republicans, we also want to draw conclusions on the ethical level. Many such values were flouted during this crisis. Consider births first; many fathers cannot attend childbirth. 140,000 babies will be born without their father in April and May. It is against human dignity. The presence of the father is even a recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO). Questions related to the death and its support are also to be taken into account. 100,000 deceased will be deprived of a dignified funeral. All cremations are closed to the public. There is no more ceremony or access to the crematorium. The health crisis should not cause the bundle of ethical values that make up our society to waver.
In the light of this crisis, how could we have avoided these situations which are today contrary to respect for the dignity and ethical values of French society?
Quite simply by generalizing tests and the wearing of masks, ceremonies and rites could have existed. Today, if people cannot come to the hospital to accompany their father or their mother at the end of life, it is because there are no masks and that one does not want to take risks . Same thing on the visiting rights of nursing homes. Tomorrow, we will need this ethical shield which guarantees, even during a global pandemic, the preservation of fundamental ethical values in all human societies.