La Gresle is a rural French town with roughly 850 residents on the outskirts of Lyon, and like many countryside communities across France, it experiences an acute shortage of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.
The lack of doctors in the area became so exasperating that the mayor of La Gresle has resorted to a rather unorthodox and extreme measure by issuing an outlandish ban that prohibits the town’s residents from “dying in their homes on Saturdays, Sundays and on public holidays”.
According to the mayor, the problem came to a head early this December after no doctor could be found to record official medical details following the death of an elderly nursing home resident.
“The SAMU (local emergency medical services office) refused to send us a doctor and asked the local police to handle the administrative duties,” La Gresle Mayor Isabelle Dugelet said, adding that a doctor was eventually found who was willing to drive in from a neighboring region to help out with the unfortunate situation.
The mayor’s office said in a statement that the “absurd order” was in response to “the absurdity of the [healthcare] system.”
Acknowledging that the ‘death ban’ is indeed a publicity stunt to try and draw attention to the community’s dire healthcare situation, the mayor decried the “catastrophic health situation” in La Gresle and neighboring villages.
While French citizens can seek out healthcare in other regions and municipalities, they face penalties against their medical assistance grants from the government if they do so.