‘People Are Dying’: Battling Coronavirus Inside a N.Y.C. Hospital | NYT News


[Machine beeping] “The frustrating thing
about all of this is it really just feels like
it’s too little, too late. Like we knew —
we knew it was coming. Today is kind of
getting worse and worse. We had to get a
refrigerated truck to store the bodies of
patients who are dying. We are, right now,
scrambling to try to get a few additional
ventilators or even CPAP machines. If we could get
CPAP machines, we could free up ventilators
for patients who need them. You know, we now have
these five vents. We probably — unless
people die, I suspect we’ll be back to needing to
beg for ventilators again in another day or two. There’s a mythical
100 vents out there which we haven’t seen. Leaders in various offices,
from the president to the head of
Health and Hospitals, saying things like,
‘We’re going to be fine. Everything’s fine.’ And from our perspective,
everything is not fine. I don’t have the
support that I need, and even just the materials
that I need, physically, to take care of my patients. And it’s America,
and we’re supposed to be a first-world country. On a regular day, my
emergency department’s volume is pretty high. It’s about
200 people a day. Now we’re seeing 400
or more people a day. At first, we were trying
to isolate patients with cough and fever and be
more careful around them, but we weren’t
necessarily being extra careful around
all the other patients. And then we started to
realize that patients who were coming in with
no fever but abdominal pain actually had findings on
their X-rays and chest CTs that were consistent
with this coronavirus, Covid-19. So someone in a car
accident gets brought in and we get a CT scan of
them, and their lungs look like they
have coronavirus. We were seeing a lot of
patients who probably had Covid, but we didn’t realize. Ten residents and also
many, many of our nurses and a few of the attending
physicians got sick. The anxiety of this situation
is really overwhelming. All of the doctors,
it’s hard for us to get tested even if we want
to, even if we have symptoms. We’re exposed over
and over again. We don’t have the
protective equipment that we should have. I put on one N95 mask
in the morning. I need to have that N95 mask
on for every patient I see. I don’t take it off all day. The N95 mask I wore today
is also the N95 mask I wore on Friday. We’re always worried that
we’ll be out of N95 masks. What’s a little bit
scary now is the patients that we’re getting
are much sicker. Many of the young people
who are getting sick don’t smoke, they’re healthy,
they have no co-morbidities. They’re just young,
regular people between the ages of 30 and 50
who you would not expect to get this sick. So many people are saying
it’s going to be OK, everything’s fine, we have
what we need. And if this goes on for a
month or two or three or five like it did in China, and we’re
already this strained, we don’t have what we need. I don’t really care
if I get in trouble for speaking to the media. I want people to know
that this is bad. People are dying. We don’t have the tools
that we need in the emergency department
and in the hospital to take care of them, and — and it’s really hard.”

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