Page 30 - White Plains Hospital Annual Report 2019-2020
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video chat. “It was hectic with everything you had to do to be the physician for a single patient, all of which was essential,” says Dr. Solarz. “Adding extra steps like the donning process with PPE made everything take a lot longer than it ordinarily would, especially when responding to patient care emergencies.”
“It was a harrowing few months,” continued Dr. Solarz. “We were medical commandos in some type of war, fighting an invisible enemy. Often, you did not know who had the virus and who did not, and you could be asymptomatic and transmit this to your colleagues, patients, or family members without the proper precautions and diligence. We learned a lot about delivering excellent care in the face of higher than usual levels of uncertainty.”
SUPPORTING COLLEAGUES
Dr. William Suggs was in a different situation. He got COVID-19 on March 22, and for two weeks at home he endured “the worst body aches and worst fatigue I
Dr. William D. Suggs
have ever experienced.” Back at work on April 6, days before the peak of cases at WPH, Dr. Suggs felt that his immunity put him at an advantage as he worked five days a week placing central venous lines in the large veins of the neck, chest, or groin of as many as 10 COVID-19 patients a day.
While this is a basic procedure that most doctors learn to do as residents, it was an extremely important one as these lines provided necessary fluids and medications, or in the case of hemodialysis (the most frequent procedure he performed), helps to filter toxins from the blood. It was also one less job the
critical care team had to worry about so they could focus on providing more specialized, lifesaving care. With the help of the nurses and physician assistants, Dr. Suggs was able to place a line in about 20 minutes per patient. Having others present to help was essential with patients so unstable. In some cases, in order to place a line, it was necessary to readjust the patient from their elevated position to lie flat, which can decrease oxygen levels. The nurses would monitor the patient and assist with instruments while Dr. Suggs completed his work as quickly as possible.
“It was such a stressful environment that everybody came together and said, okay, this is what we need to do,” says Dr. Suggs. “And we did it.”
COVID-19 was unlike anything the medical community had ever seen, and safety procedures and visitor policies created entirely new and challenging responsibilities. Many of those fell to the nursing staff, who were already working seven days a week and extra shifts. Like the hospitalists, nurses also regularly communicated with families, arranged FaceTime calls, and provided the emotional support to patients that is so important for healing. Being able to offload ordinarily simple duties such as placing nasogastric (NG) feeding tubes, catheters, and hemodialysis lines for kidney failure (something virtually all the COVID- 19 patients had) was an immense help for both nurses and the intensivists.
“In my almost thirty years of practicing medicine since the completion of my fellowship, I had not experienced anything like that which was created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” notes Dr. Alan S. Multz, Associate Medical Director for Quality and Complex Care. “What we accomplished here at WPH was nothing short of extraordinary and showed how we, as an organization, came together to become one with single-mindedness of purpose to care for the COVID-19 patients.”
PUTTING SKILLS TO GOOD USE
As a new virus, COVID-19 did not come with a roadmap. But some literature had shown that keeping a patient with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a lung condition caused by the coronavirus, in a prone or facedown position for 16 to 18 hours a day, helped to access healthy tissue in the back of the
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