Brooklyn hospital a ‘war zone’ in fight against coronavirus

March 30, 2020

By Yaron Steinbuch | New York Post

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 2.48.38 PM.pngBrookdale University Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn has turned into a coronavirus “war zone,” where at least 20 patients have died of the illness and 178 others are hospitalized — 100 of whom have tested positive with the rest awaiting test results, according to a report.

“A medical war zone,” Dr. Arabia Mollette, an ER physician at the overwhelmed Brownsville hospital, told CNN, which was granted access to the facility on Sunday to observe its relentless battle against COVID-19.

“Every day I come, what I see on a daily basis, is pain, despair, suffering and health care disparities,” Mollette added as the morgue overflowed with victims of the pandemic, which as of Sunday has infected more than 32,000 New Yorkers and killed almost 700 at a frenzied pace.

Workers at the hospital in the hard-hit borough said they wanted people to understand their dire predicament and how the site needs more federal resources, and the public’s help, to continue its mission.

“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 told CNN.

VP of external affairs Khari Edwards told the network that the hospital, which sees over 100,000 patients a year, has a capacity of about 300 at any one time — but that it has been deluged with coronavirus cases.

Due to the crunch, the pediatric emergency department has been turned into an isolation area separated from other parts of the hospital with plastic sheets, Mollette said.

“I can say that every corner, every part of the hallway, every room, every space has been filled up to capacity with our patients,” she said.

“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.”

Dr. Amy Plasencia, the chief medical resident, said the hospital has “a critical shortage of ventilators in relation to the numbers that we are seeing.”

She noted that once patients are hooked up to ventilators, they must usually continue using them for one to two weeks — or longer.

“Certainly no physician wants to be put in a position where they have to triage treatments based on resource availability,” she told CNN. “But in this national crisis, that is where we may be heading.”

Lab technician Andrei Legoun said the hospital can now perform as many as 300 COVID-19 tests a day and provide results within three to six hours — and he hopes they will eventually be able to complete up to 500 tests a day.

Legoun said he has spent the last couple of months away from his family.

Disturbing video shows dead bodies loaded onto truck outside NYC hospitals “In case I’m a carrier for some reason, I don’t want to pass it along to them,” he said.

Mollette, who also hasn’t seen her family in months, sleeps in a separate bedroom from her fiancé.

“I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t really sleep that well at night,” she said.

“I’m worried about my family, I worry about my safety. I worry about my colleagues. I worry about how the shift is going to be the next time I come. I worry about if a family member is going to come and be patient as well.”