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

An emergency room doctor in Elmhurst, Queens, gives a rare look inside a hospital at the center of the coronavirus pandemic. “We don’t have the tools that we need.”

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Transcript

[Machine beeping]“The frustrating thing
about all of thisis 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 truckto store the bodies of
patients who are dying.We are, right now,
scrambling to tryto get a few additional
ventilators or evenCPAP 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’llbe back to needing to
beg for ventilators againin another day or two.There’s a mythical
100 vents out therewhich we haven’t seen.Leaders in various offices,
from the presidentto 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 supposedto be a first-world country.On a regular day, my
emergency department’s volumeis 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 patientswith cough and fever and be
more careful around them,but we weren’t
necessarily beingextra careful around
all the other patients.And then we started to
realize that patientswho were coming in with
no fever but abdominal painactually had findings on
their X-rays and chest CTsthat were consistent
with this coronavirus,Covid-19.So someone in a car
accident gets brought inand we get a CT scan of
them, and their lungslook like they
have coronavirus.We were seeing a lot of
patients who probably hadCovid, but we didn’t realize.Ten residents and also
many, many of our nursesand a few of the attending
physicians got sick.The anxiety of this situation
is really overwhelming.All of the doctors,
it’s hard for usto 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 equipmentthat 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 maskI wore on Friday.We’re always worried that
we’ll be out of N95 masks.What’s a little bit
scary now is the patientsthat we’re getting
are much sicker.Many of the young people
who are getting sickdon’t smoke, they’re healthy,
they have no co-morbidities.They’re just young,
regular peoplebetween the ages of 30 and 50
who you would not expectto 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 fivelike 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 troublefor speaking to the media.I want people to know
that this is bad.People are dying.We don’t have the tools
that we needin the emergency department
and in the hospitalto take care of them, and —and it’s really hard.”

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