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Documenting the care of Spain’s most vulnerable generation

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Emilio Morenatti, chief photographer, Barcelona, spent two weeks accompanying home health care workers and emergency medical personnel tending isolated and elderly patients in Spain, some of whom survived Spanish Civil War and now are enduring the new coronavirus. What emerged was exquisite visual storytelling.

When Morenatti learned that a friend was tending to elderly patients confined to home, many of them sick and living alone, he asked to be introduced to the director of her clinic. “I explained that I wanted to make visible the tremendous but invisible work of primary care health workers these days. I asked them to let me go with the nurses during their home visits, as many as possible, and said I also would focus on patients I had been looking for: the most vulnerable victims of this pandemic, the elderly,“ he said.

Each day for the two weeks, Morenatti and the health care workers visited five to seven patients in their homes scattered throughout the working-class Poble Sec neighborhood, many of them residing on top floors without elevators: “The long walks, the endless stairs and putting on and taking off protective gear on each of the visits was a challenge.”

Most of the patients were in their 80s. “On each visit I explained why I was taking photos: documenting the reason why citizens of every city in Spain come out to their balconies every day to applaud these public health workers,” he says.

Along with the health care professionals, Morenatti captured a frail and vulnerable generation, not only in the patients’ masked faces, but in their artwork, religious icons, trinkets and family photographs – the artifacts of a lifetime. The unique images, unmistakably European, are at once beautifully realized and heartbreaking. Chief Rome correspondent Nicole Winfield helped Morenatti with a perfect story to complement the intimate photos.

“My experience has been very rewarding,not only for knowing first-hand the reality inside each of those houses,but for the love and tremendous dedication of each one of those professionals,” Morenatti said. https://bit.ly/2V9nvKS

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