“Flying doctors” will pull Nièvre out of the medical desert – Science et Avenir

“No, it’s not crazy. It meets the needs”: An airlift for medical personnel was arranged between Dijon and Nievre, the medical desert, on Thursday, despite criticism of the environmental impact.

Eight “flying doctors” arrived just before 9 am in Nevers, due to light drizzle and severe cold, before being taken to the hospital of the city, the capital of Nievre (200,000 inhabitants). That same evening they were to return to Dijon.

This “air bridge” is designed to connect Nevers at least once a week with the regional capital Dijon in 35 minutes, compared to almost three hours by car or two and a quarter hours by train.

“Airplane is the best way to reduce delays,” while the Nevers hospital in France is “the furthest departmental hospital from CHU, the hospital center of the University of Dijon where doctors can be available,” Nevers’ mayor and president of LREM explained. City Hospital Center (CH), Denis Thurio.

Pulmonologists, oncologists or other gynecologists are destined for the CT, which lacks “about fifty doctors and at least 35 nurses,” according to Patrick Bertrand, president of the Hospital Center’s Medical Commission.

But the small eight-seat single-engine also carried two general practitioners from SOS Médecins. “We’re going to create a structure” that currently doesn’t exist in Nièvre, general practitioner Romain Thevenou told AFP.

“Our goal is to take better care of the population,” explained CH director Jean-Francois Segovia at Nevers airport. “Between 2012 and 2022, the density of medical care in Nièvre decreased by 21%. There are 68 doctors per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to the French average of 121. There is no dermatologist, only one rheumatologist, an allergist… there is no doctor in charge,” he said.

“This airlift is ephemeral, but it’s better than nothing. This will save us patients from traveling to other departments,” Bridget May, a resident of Nivernez, who remembers spending “ten hours” in the emergency department of Nevers Hospital, tells AFP. absence of a doctor.

“Patients in their 80s are waiting day and night,” says Ms May, who is also a user representative for France Assos Santé, an association of health system users.

– “1500 times more” CO2 –

Air travel has a cost borne by the hospital, but it will actually “save”, Mr Thurriot says. “It costs 670 euros round trip per passenger,” and a temporary doctor can ask for up to “3,000 euros per day,” the mayor calculates.

However, this measure has drawn criticism from environmentalists. “Traveling by plane emits 1,500 times more greenhouse gases than by train,” accuses Sylvie Dupard-Muserel, Nevers municipal councilor for EELV, “at a time when Europe is asserting the cancellation of domestic flights when there is an alternative by train with less costs. than 2h30″. However, this measure does not apply to private flights such as Dijon-Nevers.

“No, it’s not crazy. It meets the needs,” the mayor of Nevers defends. “Let’s stop beating planes. Business planes take off every morning and you don’t hear anyone screaming,” he adds. “This will help the people of Nivernais, who have the shortest life expectancy in the region.”

Inna Dygai-Kochet, director of the hospital in Dijon, works at the Nevers hospital after arriving by plane with “flying doctors”, January 26, 2023 in Nievre (AFP – Thierry ZOCCOLAN)

“I am aware of the criticism about the carbon footprint. But we need to hear all those who call 15,” adds Dr. Romain Thevenou from SOS Médecins.

The creation of a medical flight “seems all the more necessary as the rail link between Nevers and Dijon will be suspended for at least seven months from July to carry out work,” Nievre Socialist President Fabien Bazin reminds AFP.

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