Covid-19, Dr. Arabia Mollette said, has turned the Brooklyn-based hospital into “a war zone.”
“A medical war zone,” Mollette, an emergency room physician at Brookdale Hospital, told CNN. “Every day I come, what I see on a daily basis, is pain, despair, suffering and health care disparities.”
“The hope that we have is that if people be more socially responsible and stay home and do what they can do to flatten this curve, it will help alleviate the pressure off the emergency department,” Mollette said.
Overflow of patients, not enough resources
Brookdale Hospital, which began seeing Covid-19 patients at the beginning of March, said it now has more than 100 patients who have tested positive for the virus, and 78 additional patients are hospitalized as they await results. As of Sunday, at least 20 patients had died after contracting the virus.
The hospital sees over 100,000 patients annually, and has a capacity of about 300 people at any given time, Khari Edwards, the hospital’s vice president of external affairs, told CNN.
But with coronavirus cases rapidly increasing, there has been an influx of patients.
Already, the hospital has started to open up floors that have not been in use for years to make room for more patient beds, Mollette said. The hospital has also converted its pediatric emergency department into a Covid-19 isolation area, she added.
To separate the space from other wings of the hospital, health care workers hung plastic sheets from the walls, and used duct tape to prevent them from falling.
“I can say that every corner every part of the hallway, every room, every space has been filled up to capacity with our patients,” Mollette said.
Inside the ER, a cacophony of coughing filled the room as one nurse walked through rows of filled beds to feed a patient juice.
Meanwhile, the ICU is quieter — as the lulled beep of machines, including ventilators, reverberates.
“Wash your hands” signs hang on the doors of patients’ rooms, reminding those who enter to do the task recommended most by health officials amid the pandemic.
As is the case with many other hospitals across the country, Brookdale Hospital is struggling to keep up with the demand for resources as more patients come in.
“We need gowns, we need gloves we need masks we need more vents (ventilators),” Mollette said. “We need more medical space. We need psychological support as well. It’s not easy coming here when you know what you’re getting ready to face.”
President Donald Trump previously downplayed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s request for 30,000 more ventilators for the state.
But Dr. Amy Plasencia, chief medical resident at Brookdale Hospital, said the hospital has “a critical shortage of ventilators in relation to the numbers that we are seeing.”
Ventilators are used on serious cases of Covid-19 to help patients breathe who are struggling to do so on their own, Plasencia said.
Once patients are hooked up to the machines, they generally need to continue using them for one to two weeks or longer, she said.
“Certainly no physician wants to be put in a position where they have to triage treatments based on resource availability,” she said. “But in this national crisis that is where we may be heading.”
Brookdale Hospital, like others in the state, is so strapped for ventilators that it has started looking at ways to repurpose older models that have been out of use, and adapting anesthesia machines to use as ventilators, Plasencia said.
The hospital’s morgue is also overflowing.
Edwards said the morgue can usually hold around 20 people, and the hospital’s already “gone over that” number.
The hospital now has a refrigerated truck provided by the state to help with the overflow of bodies.
“What’s more so terrifying is you have family members who can’t come pick up normally as they lose a family member,” Edwards said. “Funeral homes are swamped.”
Health care workers have already begun preparing additional beds in anticipation of having even more patients in the coming weeks, Edwards said.
Hospital workers stay away from their own families to protect them
Wearing protective gear is now considered essential at most hospitals to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
At Brookdale Hospital on Sunday, almost all health care employees — including janitorial staff, food workers, nurses and doctors — made sure to protect themselves by covering up from head-to-toe while working in patient areas.
The standard “uniform” for any health care employee as they brave the packed hospital includes gloves, face shields, surgical masks, gowns or lab coats, and covers for their hair and shoes.
With the gear on, some say they feel safe — at least…
Source Website Inside a Brooklyn hospital that is overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients and deaths