ER doctor films coronavirus crisis inside overwhelmed NYC hospitalMarch 27, 2020
‘People are dying and we can’t look after them’: ER doctor risks her job to film coronavirus victims inside an overstretched NYC hospital – as dozens of new patients line up outside
- Dr Colleen Smith filmed the inside of Elmhurst Hospital in Queens on Tuesday
- The footage shows rows upon rows of beds filled with critical COVID-19 patients hooked up to ventilators
- Outside the hospital dozens of people are seen waiting to get tested
- Smith said she and her colleagues are facing a dangerous shortage of supplies as they treat up to 400 coronavirus patients on a daily basis
- ‘I don’t have the support that I need and even just the materials I need physically to take care of my patients,’ she said
- There are 21,393 cases of coronavirus and 280 deaths in NYC as of Thursday
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
An emergency room doctor on the front lines of New York City’s coronavirus outbreak has offered a harrowing look inside Elmhurst Hospital Center, where 13 people died in the span of 24 hours this week.
Footage recorded by Dr Colleen Smith on Tuesday shows rows upon rows of beds filled with critical COVID-19 patients hooked up to ventilators.
Scenes from outside the 545-bed public hospital in Queens show hundreds of people lined up waiting to get treated and tested, with the queues growing longer each day.
Smith says she and her colleagues are facing a constant shortage of supplies as they treat up to 400 coronavirus patients on a daily basis, double the rate on a typical day before the pandemic.
‘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,’ she said in the video shared with the New York Times and ABC News.
‘From our perspective everything is not fine. I don’t have the support that I need and even just the materials I need physically to take care of my patients.’
Scroll down for video
Colleen Smith, an emergency room doctor on the front lines of New York City’s coronavirus outbreak, recorded footage inside Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens on Tuesday
Smith’s video shows rows upon rows of critical COVID-19 patients hooked up to ventilators at the 545-bed public hospital where 13 people died in a period of 24 hours this week
Scenes from outside the hospital show hundreds of people lined up waiting to get treated and tested, with the queues growing longer each day (pictured Thursday)
As of Thursday afternoon, 21,393 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in New York City and 280 have died
‘The frustrating thing about all of this is it really feels like it’s too little too late,’ Smith said as she walked down a hallway in the hospital. ‘We knew, we knew it was coming.’
‘It’s America. We’re supposed to be a first-world country,’ she added.
Smith made the comments on Tuesday, as the number of cases in New York City hovered around 14,000, with more than 130 deaths.
By Thursday morning, the case count jumped to 21,393 and nearly 200 deaths.
‘Today is kinda getting worse and worse, we had to get a refrigerated truck to store the bodies of patients who are dying,’ Smith said.
‘We are right now scrambling to get a few additional ventilators or even C-PAP machines, if we could get C-PAP machines we could free up ventilators for patients who need them.’
Smith filmed a row of only five ventilators that were not in use at the time, saying: ‘Unless people die, I expect we’ll be back to needing to beg for ventilators again in another day or two.’
Smith said she and her colleagues are facing a dangerous shortage of supplies as they treat up to 400 coronavirus patients on a daily basis
Smith filmed a row of only five ventilators that were not in use at the time, saying: ‘Unless people die, I expect we’ll be back to needing to beg for ventilators again in another day or two’
As of Thursday there are over 83,000 cases of the virus in the US and over 1,000 deaths
The hospital received another shipment of ventilators a few hours later, which Smith said was the third emergency re-supply in the past week.
The head of the NYC public hospital system has denied that Elmhurst has ever come close to running out of ventilators.
In a statement to the Times, the system said: ‘Elmhurst is at the center of this crisis, and it’s the number one priority of our public hospital system right now.
‘The front line staff are going above and beyond in this crisis, and we continue surging supplies and personnel to this critical facility to keep pace with the crisis.’
FEMA has also promised to ship more equipment to Elmhurst, but Smith said she isn’t optimistic that the agency will follow through as many of its previous promises have fallen through.
People are seen lined up in front of Elmhurst Thursday as they wait to get tested for COVID-19
A medic is seen carting a patient into the Intensive Care Unit at Elmhurst on Saturday
The shortage of equipment is also taking a toll on hospital staff, who don’t have what they need to protect themselves from infected patients.
‘The anxiety of this situation is really overwhelming. All of the doctors, its hard for us to get tested, even if we want to, even if we have symptoms,’ Smith said, noting that ten residents, ‘many, many nurses’, and ‘a few’ attending physicians have already fallen ill.
‘We’re exposed over and over again, we don’t have the protective equipment 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 run out of N95 masks.
Smith said the hospital is adapting as fast as it can and has set up a tent outside to test mildly sick patients – but that hasn’t alleviated the pressure.
‘At first we were trying to isolate people with cough and fever and be more careful around them, but we weren’t necessarily being extra careful around other patients,’ she said.
‘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, we get a CT scan of them, and their lungs look like they have coronavirus.
‘We’re seeing a lot of patients who probably had COVID but we didn’t realize.’
EMTs in protective masks bring a person into the emergency room at Elmhurst on Thursday
The hospital set up a temporary tent outside to test people who have mild symptoms
She said she’s also seen a shift in the state of patients checking into the hospital, as well as the demographics.
‘What’s scary now is we’re getting patients that are much sicker,’ she said.
‘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.’
Smith said she was speaking out because she grew tired of hearing leaders like President Donald Trump downplay the situation.
‘So many people are saying its going to be okay, everything’s fine, we have what we need,’ she said.
‘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,’ she added.
‘I want people to know that this is bad, people are dying, we don’t have the tools that we need to take care of them. It’s really hard.’
An Elmhurst spokesperson released a statement on Wednesday confirming that 13 patients at the hospital had died from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours.
‘Staff are doing everything in our power to save every person who contracts Covid-19,’ the statement said, asserting that the death toll was consistent with the number of Intensive Care Unit patients being treated there.
Elmhurst is at the center of the crisis in New York state, the statement said.
As of Thursday afternoon, 37,258 people have tested positive for coronavirus and 385 have died in the hard-hit state, which accounts for more than half of the 73,939 cases across the US and 1,074 of the nation’s deaths.
The number of cases in the US has rocketed over the last two weeks
Source: Read Full Article