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Cihan Çelik on coming to terms with the pandemic and cannabis legalization

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Cihan Çelik on coming to terms with the pandemic and cannabis legalization

Doctor Çelik, congratulations, the Federal President has awarded you the Federal Cross of Merit on ribbon; it was presented to you on Friday in Wiesbaden. How does that feel?

It’s an incredible honor for me. I also accept the honor for the clinical work during the pandemic on behalf of the thousands of helpers who did the same. I am particularly pleased that many people obviously value understandable and practical communication on medical topics so much, especially in very turbulent and confusing times.

We talk to you regularly about medical topics and healthcare. What is the current situation at the Darmstadt Clinic – and how was the winter?

At the moment, the infection season in the clinic has clearly subsided and we are busy with other illnesses. We have a lot fewer influenza patients; that was the last wave to subside since the end of February. Some very elderly patients are currently infected with influenza B, which is now circulating after influenza A. Overall, one can say that the pattern from the previous year was repeated: first the Covid wave comes in autumn and then the influenza wave at the beginning of January. In between, there was an increase in RSV infections, but this is becoming more of a problem in pediatric medicine. Compared to pre-pandemic times, we now had a significantly longer infection season in the clinic. There are now two pathogens that can lead to many hospitalizations in the same risk group in winter, and they peak one after the other. Since this is the same risk group, the education and vaccination campaign should also be aligned accordingly. This year, some patients were a little negligent about the influenza vaccination, perhaps because the influenza waves were not as severe during the pandemic due to hygiene measures. But now they were pretty intense again.

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Can you at least go into the rest of the year with a good feeling because you can easily assess how things are going?

This long infection season is stressful because at the same time more staff are out sick. But in medicine you are very adaptable and have to plan, for example with infection protection concepts. The season is longer, there are more patients overall, and the staff is scarce. But yes, at least we know roughly what to expect winter after winter and what hygiene measures will be necessary in the hospital. Nevertheless, it remains a major challenge. This is also the case for colleagues in outpatient practices.

Masks are a pandemic phenomenon everywhere: Cihan Çelik advocates an “open-ended review” of the measures taken at the time. : Image: Dagmar threshold/laif

Can the extension of the infection season be quantified even more precisely?

Before the pandemic, the influenza wave in the inpatient area usually only started at the beginning of the year, and the intensity varied from year to year. In November and December, staff absences due to colds were the problem. Now the period of many additional inpatient admissions due to Covid begins in October, and with influenza this continues until February and March. This season is therefore twice as long as it was when Covid-19 did not yet exist. These observations match the RKI data from the weekly reports.

But they don’t have twice as many staff.

No, just as much. That’s why this comes at the expense of the rest of the hospital’s operations. Beds have to be reduced and planned interventions are then postponed.

Did you learn anything new about Corona this winter?

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We continue to learn and there has been a new version of the German guidelines since February. However, nothing has changed in the basic therapeutic strategies. The recommendations for drug therapy and blood thinning have been updated with more evidence and slightly changed. With the increasing immunity in the population and our experience, we can achieve good therapeutic success. The disease is no longer as threatening to society; This also reduces the pressure to have to do something differently. Our open flank are the high-risk patients with an extremely weakened immune system, for example cancer patients undergoing therapy. They are still the hardest hit.

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