Ricardo Lange, 39, works as a nurse in a Berlin intensive care unit. His clinic is one of the 17 facilities with a Covid focus. Here he reports every week about night shifts, makeshift arrangements and glimmers of hope.
Mr. Lange, nurses like you should be vaccinated first. Have you already received the injection?
No, because I work for a leasing company, so I am not one of the permanent staff at the hospital where I am currently deployed. Even if I have been working almost continuously on the same Covid station since the beginning of the pandemic. But the clinics only get doses for their own people, so permanent colleagues in intensive care and rescue wards are already vaccinated. Last Friday I tried to get a code on my own that I need for the syringe. I chose 116 117 …
… the nationwide information hotline for vaccinations.
They referred me to the Senate Department for Health, Nursing and Equality. An employee there told me that many other temporary workers had already called, but the numerical code with which you can get a vaccination appointment is not yet available to us. I find that scandalous! We’ve been fighting at the front for months, but now we’ve been completely forgotten.
This is also strange because we were only on the political agenda last year when the State of Berlin tried to curb temporary work in nursing with an initiative in the Federal Council. And now nobody wants to have known about us? The reason was not, by the way: There is not enough vaccine. Rather: We have not yet developed a procedure for how leasing workers can be vaccinated. We were classified as particularly endangered, category 1. Germany, land of bureaucracy! Incidentally, I hear from many employees in outpatient care who haven’t had their turn yet. Health Minister Jens Spahn had announced that it would jerk. I call it an emergency stop.
[Die Toten der Pandemie: Der Tagesspiegel gedenkt der Berliner Opfer und erzählt ihre Geschichten]
Shouldn’t your leasing company take care of something like that?
They do – so far without success, so I wanted to take matters into my own hands. Berlin has the highest proportion of temporary workers in Germany. And we are the ones who come when there is a fire. When the clinics can no longer get by with the staff they have. Just like permanent carers, we have risked our health, endangered our families and done backbreaking work in the past few months. Now we are treated like 2nd class employees. We are jointly responsible for ensuring that the shop is still running!
[Weitere Folgen der Kolumne “Außer Atem” mit Ricardo Lange lesen Sie hier, hier, hier, hier, hier, hier, hier und hier]
You had a personal appointment with Mayor Michael Müller last week. Did you bring up the subject?
Yes – and many others too. There was also a lawyer from the Senate Department for Health who recorded our conversation. Mr. Müller promised to take care of the problem. I hope something changes quickly. What made a lasting impression on me when I visited the governing mayor in the House of Representatives was: In this magnificent building with heavy carpets and pompous art on the walls, there was a plate with two simple sandwiches on Müller’s desk.
I didn’t think anyone in his office would have such a simple lunch. The edges of the cold cuts were already curling, as if the loaves had been standing there for a while. That reminded me of my work. Again and again I want to bite off the loaves that I brought from home. But I just can’t get around to it because someone is always calling.
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Berlin intensive care carers Corona front Leasing workers vaccinated Covid ward Society