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HOSPITAL

Man given first artificial heart dies after 75 days

A 70-year-old man, who was given the first artificial heart at a hospital in Paris, died this week, just two and a half months after undergoing the operation.

Man given first artificial heart dies after 75 days
French Social Affairs and Health Minister Marisol Touraine listens to leading heart transplant specialist Alain Carpentier and Professor Jean-Noel Fabiani. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

A septuagenarian man who was fitted with the French biomedical firm Carmat's first artificial heart two and half months ago has died, a hospital statement said Monday.

"Seventy-five days after the implant of the first Carmat artificial heart bioprosthesis in a 76-year-old man with a terminal heart disease, the patient died on March 2nd, 2014," the Georges-Pompidou European Hospital said.

Artificial hearts have already been in use for many years as a temporary fix for patients with chronic heart problems.

The Carmat product aims to provide a longer-term solution to bridge the wait for a donor heart and enable hospitalized patients to return home and maybe even resume work.

The hospital statement said the causes of death "will not be known until after a thorough analysis of the abundant medical and technical data that has been recorded".

The artificial heart, a self-contained unit implanted in the patient's chest, uses soft "biomaterials" and an array of sensors to mimic the contractions of the heart.

The patient had received his artificial heart on December 18th, in a world first performed after the French government gave its green light to the operation in September.

The surgeons who carried out the ground-breaking operation and subsequently monitored the patient's progress were keen to "stress the significance of the initial findings drawn" from the experiment, the hospital's statement said.

They paid homage to the patient, who was "fully aware of what was at stake and – with his trust, courage and will – made a memorable contribution to the medical battle against a growing disease."

Nearly 100,000 people in Europe and the United States are in need of a heart transplant, according to Carmat.

A US rival to Carmat, an artificial heart called AbioCor, is authorized in the United States for patients with end-stage heart failure or life expectancy of less than 30 days, who are not eligible for a natural heart transplant and have no other viable treatment options.

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GENEVA

Is Switzerland ‘pilfering’ health workers from France during pandemic?

Officials in the Haute-Savoie area of France have accused private Swiss health clinics of poaching essential healthcare workers.

Is Switzerland 'pilfering' health workers from France during pandemic?
Health care workers from France prefer to work on the Swiss side of the border. Photo by AFP

The headline in Switzerland's Le Temps newspaper reads: “Geneva is pilfering our nurses”.

It comes from an interview with a French MP who laments how France is losing health workers to its neighbour at the height of a health crisis.

“The behaviour of some hospital administrators in Switzerland is totally unacceptable in the context of the health crisis”, Haute-Savoie’s deputy Martial Saddier said in an interview with Le Temps newspaper. 

He was referring to a practice of Swiss clinics recruiting health workers in France which French officials like Saddier says has caused a shortage of personnel in French hospitals in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Saddier denounced several private clinics in Geneva for actively recruiting nursing staff from Haute-Savoie, luring them with salaries that are about two and a half times higher than those paid in the French region.

Though the phenomenon of medical workers from Haute-Savoie ‘migrating’ to Geneva is not new — 60 percent of nursing staff at Geneva’s university hospitals (HUG) live in France — Saddier said these recruitments should not happen during the pandemic. 

“While the number of infected people may be high in Geneva, Haute-Savoie is not spared either, with rates among the highest in France. We need all our vital forces”, he said.

Olivier Teissèdre, director of Hôpital privé Pays de Savoie (HPPS) pointed out that already during the first wave of Covid-19, “350 of our caregivers were recruited in Geneva, which put us in great difficulty. Today I lost 4 percent of my staff and had to shut down a night shift”.

“Now the shortage of caregivers is crucially felt because the care of Covid-19 patients is particularly heavy”, he added.

READ MORE: IN PICTURES: Swiss flags hang over protesting French ski village 

At the start of the second wave, the HPSS set up a partnership with another Haute-Savoie medical facility, the Alpes-Léman public hospital.

“But we no longer have enough employees to maintain this partnership because there is too much movement of staff toward Switzerland”, Teissèdre said.

At the start of the pandemic, an agreement was reached with the Geneva authorities to stop recruiting medical personnel from France, but this commitment only concerns public hospitals. No such pact was made with private clinics.

Laurent Paoliello, spokesperson for Geneva’s Health Department said that while HUG, which is a public hospital, has respected the hiring freeze, the canton can’t impose similar restrictions on recruitment policies of private establishments.

“However, we consider it inappropriate to loot the region next door, especially during a pandemic”, he said.

Although the Haute-Savoie officials say that private hospitals have placed ads in a local newspaper, Le Dauphiné libéré, seeking French health care workers, Geneva’s clinics deny advertising in France.

“We only recruit through our site, or on Jobup.ch, as well as on social networks”, said Magali Dauwalder, spokesperson for the Hirslanden group of private hospitals, which manages La Colline et les Grangettes clinics in Geneva.


READ MORE: Switzerland rejects further coronavirus lockdown despite 'worrying' situation 

 

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