By Drew Hinshaw and| Photographs by for The Wall Street Journal
MIĘDZYCHÓD, Poland—So many new doctors left Poland for better-paying jobs in Europe’s west that when Łukasz Rotnicki decided to stay behind he often found himself working 36-hour shifts, sleeping on the brown pullout sofa of a small-town hospital with too few staff.
That was before Covid-19.
On a recent Monday, the 36-year-old surgeon was on his 74th consecutive hour of treating coronavirus patients, broken by only a few short naps.
At the same hospital, a local nurse had recently been hospitalized, feverish and short of breath. Yet the staffing crunch was so dire that she kept working in the very Covid-19 ward where she was meant to recover, feeding the sick and turning them onto their stomachs before returning to her own bed in the same room.