Notes from the Front Lines of Covid-19 in a New York City Hospital – Part 2

Notes from the Front Lines of Covid-19 in a New York City Hospital – Part 2

A Typical Day from a Doctor’s Perspective

(Note:  Dr. Pfau’s son is a physician working in a Brooklyn, NY hospital.  These are excerpts from his texts).

11 AM.  We go on rounds, discuss patients, discuss plans, figure out next best steps.  Call families, give updates.  Another “Code” – chest compressions, medications given, pulse returns – a small victory.  20 minutes later, “Code” again for the same patient – another victory.  10 minutes later “Code” yet again.  This time, the patient dies.  Fill out paperwork and continue with our day.  Try to eat something.

Throughout the day, there are more admissions and more patients to see – shortness of breath, fever, cough, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness.  The ER is like a war zone.  No family is allowed in the hospital, so patients feel isolated, anxious, and afraid.  Sometimes I find myself holding hands with the patients while we talk.

We’re staying late tonight.  Another “Code”.  About to start chest compressions when we realize they are DNR (Do Not Resuscitate).  Hope they passed peacefully.  Call family, fill out paperwork.  Continue fielding calls from nurses and pharmacy to clarify orders.  Another code for a different DNR patient.  Call family.  Fill out paperwork.  More discussion about the goals of care.  Discuss treatment plans.

Getting ready to go home.  Another “Code” patient is being intubated.  Discuss patients with overnight coverage team.  Leave the hospital around 9 PM.  Take the emptier than usual train home.  Shower, eat, watch some TV, sleep.  Do it all again tomorrow.

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