Swiss photographer Valeriano Di Domenico captures the raw images and impressions of the people caring for Covid-19 patients through the pandemic.This content was published on January 9, 2021 - 12:00
Last spring, Di Domenico was sent by a local newspaper to cover the pandemic at the first Covid-response hospital in Switzerland, in Locarno, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. Moved by what he saw, he returned to shoot another series of photographs and speak to the people behind the masks.
This second set of photos are a more personal take on the nurses and doctors on the frontline and how they experienced the pandemic. They are currently on show near the hospital.
These are some of the unmasked faces of the people he met and what they have to say.
Selina Madrigali, intensive care nurse
"It was hard to see the worried eyes of the colleagues who were usually always in a good mood. It was also difficult to see all the patients arriving, intubating them, and preparing them for the whole process; especially their reaction when someone explained to them what to expect.”
Nicola Clerici, Chief of Anesthesiology
“At some point we thought we wouldn’t make it. We probably wouldn’t have been able to get through the pandemic, had the hospital admission levels stayed the same. We had exhausted all of the cantonal resources.”
Paola Galeazzi, intensive care nurse
"I came from the regional hospital in Lugano and had heard about the situation in Locarno. But it was something else to see patients intubated with my own eyes. I was assigned two patients right away and started working. What impressed me were the number of patients, the colleagues and the constant noise.”
Ricardo Da Graca Gameiro, nurse practitioner
"I work in the emergency room. In the beginning, when so many patients arrived, it was difficult to manage the rush. We had to move the entire ward outside the hospital to make room for intensive care beds. The incredible solidarity of the population provided support.”
Raffaella Gentilini, intensive care nurse
"On March 9, I returned to the hospital after four days of holiday and was catapulted into a completely different reality. There were very few of us and the patients kept coming and had to be intubated and prepped. Until help arrived from other hospitals, everything was very difficult.”
Pietro Fare, Head of Internal Medicine
"One day I entered the room of a dying woman. I told her I would bring her an embrace from the Pope. The day before, the Pope had said that we should bring a gesture of tenderness to the elderly. She lit up and touched my arm. She said, ‘it is like you are my son.' It was a gesture that moved me.”
Laura Ostinelli, intensive care nurse
"I arrived in Locarno at night from Mendrisio. I tried to imagine what I would find there. But the reality was totally different, very shocking.”