Doctor Çelik, congratulations, the President of the Union awarded you with the ribbon of the Federal Servant; it was handed over to you on Friday in Wiesbaden. What does it feel like?

This is an incredible honor for me. I also take credit for the clinical work done during the pandemic on behalf of the thousands of helpers who did the same. I am especially glad that apparently many people appreciate so much clear and matter-of-fact communication on medical topics, especially in very confusing and confused times.

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

At the moment, the infectious season has clearly subsided in the clinic and we are busy with other diseases. We have far fewer flu patients; it was the last wave of subsidence since late February. Some very elderly patients are currently infected with influenza B, which is now spreading after influenza A. In summary, we can say that last year's pattern was repeated: first comes the Covid in the fall and then the flu wave at the beginning of January. Meanwhile, RSV infection increased, but is becoming a growing problem in pediatric medicine. Compared to the time before the pandemic, we now had a significantly longer infection season in the clinic. Now there are two pathogens that can cause many hospitalizations in the same risk group during the winter, and they are peaking back-to-back. Since it is the same risk group, education and vaccination campaigns should also be harmonized accordingly. This year, some patients were a little leery of the flu vaccine, perhaps because flu waves were not as strong during the pandemic due to hygiene measures. But now they were pretty awesome again.

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

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

Masks are a pandemic phenomenon everywhere: Cihan Çelik advocates the measures taken at the time

Masks are a pandemic phenomenon everywhere: Cihan Çelik advocates an “open review” of the measures taken at the time.

Image: Dagmar threshold/laif

Can the extension of the infectious season be quantified more precisely?

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

But they don't have twice the number of employees.

No, just as much. Therefore, it 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?

We continue to learn and from February there will be a new version of the German guidelines. However, nothing has changed in the basic treatment strategies. The recommendations for drug therapy and blood thinning have been updated with more evidence and slightly revised. With the increasing immunity of the population and our experience, we can achieve good treatment success. The disease is no longer so dangerous to society; It also reduces the pressure to do something different. Our open side is high-risk patients with extremely weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients undergoing treatment. They are still the most hit.