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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

'Like A War Zone': Besieged California Doctors Fear Worst Is Yet To Come In COVID-19 Surge

Speaker 1: 00:00 Positive COVID tests and hospitalizations are both at record highs throughout California. Doctors and nurses are bracing for the worst at a moment when they themselves are particularly vulnerable. KQBD science reporter, Leslie McClurg reports, Speaker 2: 00:16 Only one bedroom maned. When Deontay Taylor left the emergency room at the end of a recent shift, he's a respiratory therapist at a hospital in Oakland. Speaker 3: 00:24 When I left, we had one trauma room that was open to run a trauma, and every other room was full. Speaker 2: 00:32 By the end of this week, he expects the surge to capsize his hospital. Speaker 3: 00:36 I think it's going to be chaotic. Only severe patients will be admitted and probably taken care of just because we can only keep the worst. Speaker 2: 00:46 Taylor says the problem isn't enough beds or even equipment like ventilators. Speaker 3: 00:51 We just don't have the staff to, to take on new patients. Speaker 2: 00:54 Taylor says personnel is down across the hospital, summer home, taking care of kids because schools are closed. Others are sick themselves. One staff member recently died of COVID because hospitals across the country are running short on staff. It's making it harder for California to recruit from that same pool of people. We're tired do Norwich and chia is a pulmonologist specializing in critical care at a hospital in orange County. Yeah. Oh, there's only so many words you can use to describe the extreme fatigue. Watching the COVID numbers soar in recent weeks, fills her with dread and nausea. She says she can't eat. This is real. You know, I've had patients with told me that they don't believe that there's exists until they've ended up in the hospital. Why have people lost faith in physicians? It's brutal taking care of so many patients who don't make it. Dr. [inaudible] is a pulmonologist at mercy San Juan medical center in Sacramento. He says months of pandemic care leaves, many providers traumatized Speaker 4: 02:00 Like it's, it's like post-traumatic stress disorder that it will all go through. It is a communal sense of grief. Speaker 2: 02:06 He says his ICU is filled with lifeless. Sedated bodies kept alive by machines. The floor is strewn with masks and gowns nurses, race between patients. He likens it to a war zone, Speaker 4: 02:19 Water zone because this patients can crash very quickly. Yesterday. I was on call for telemedicine and I had three patients crash within five minutes of each of them. At the same time in another hospital, there were three patients with cardiac arrest. One after one, Speaker 2: 02:37 There's often not time to honor his patients dying requests. Dr. Berta remembers an older woman who hadn't seen her, a strange son in decades. She finally called him, but the son couldn't visit his mother because of pandemic protocols. Speaker 4: 02:50 This lady could not have the sun at the bedside. And she treated me as a son and wanted me to hold her hands when she dies. And I could not live up to that Speaker 2: 03:00 Right at the end, Dr. [inaudible] was called away to treat someone else Speaker 4: 03:04 Somewhere in the back of my mind. It is haunting me and I do not know how long it will haunt me. Yeah. Speaker 2: 03:15 Currently his hospital hasn't had to turn anyone away, but he says that could change overnight. Dr. Brooches says, please stay home. Stop spreading the virus. That's what could help right now? Speaker 4: 03:27 That was KQBD science reporter. Leslie McClurg.

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Positive COVID tests and hospitalizations are both at record highs throughout California. Doctors and nurses are bracing for the worst at a moment when they themselves are particularly vulnerable.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments