New York City's COVID-19 fight now: 4 observations from a nurse volunteer

COVID-19 is still placing extreme stress on New York City's healthcare system even though the rate of new cases is falling, a nurse who recently volunteered on the front lines told The Davis Enterprise.

Paula Wagner, a nurse practitioner at University of California Davis Medical Center, spent 13 days treating COVID-19 patients at New York City-based Coney Island Hospital in early May.

Below are four quotes from Ms. Wagner about her experience.

On the lack of medical supplies:

"What was most surprising for me was the lack of essential equipment. Things like caps for IVs, disposable tape measures, disinfectant wipes. We used wall hand sanitizer and put it on paper towels. It was even difficult to find a pen."

On the dedication of front-line workers: 

"The locals working in the [emergency departments] there from the start are superhuman. At the peak, people there worked 20-30 days straight. They still work 12-hour days and almost every day."

On high patient volumes, even after hospitalizations peaked in New York:

"My team saw 16 people my first day. There were still patients coming in on ambulances requiring intubation and central-line placement on a daily basis."

On the pandemic's emotional toll:

"In the break room or after a shift, a lot of people were resistant to even talking about their experience at the height of the curve. I think it was very stressful and very traumatic for them to see how fast patients got sick. The care teams would do so much intervention, but patients wouldn’t improve. That’s hard to see."

To read her full account of the volunteer experience, click here.

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