Just a month ago, I was on call at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and covering a census of >50 patients. It was a great mix of cases from AL amyloidosis, Anca vasculitis, Anti GBM, cardio renal syndromes, check pt inhibitor induced AIN, and several onconephrology electrolyte disorders. In addition, our center had also just done their first heart-kidney transplant recently and it was an amazing feeling.
Fast forward, a month later, I am on call again and I sense a census >60 and over 80% of those cases are COVID-19+ with either AKI or ESRD. What just happened here????
As the pandemic knocked the doors of NY, the hospital I have worked for 10 years now had turned into a different place. In the last 3 weeks, all surgeries were cancelled, all non elective admissions postponed... outpatient clinics slowing down.. and what do I see now..
I walk in and I can't recognize people. The make up and gel that people used to have is replaced by N95s and surgical masks. Nice suits,dresses all gone and replaced by scrubs and surgical gowns.
CT ICU, NS ICU, SICU, CCU and transplant ICU - are now all medical ICU beds.
ER is overflowing with COVID-19 patients.
ICU has vented patients from ages 31-83y of age, both males and females.
CRRT machines being deployed at almost every floor.
Surgical floors converted to medical COVID-19 floors. Only 4-5 floors remain as non COVID floors in the hospital...
Hallways are empty, cafe empty since no family is allowed....
This transformation -- just in 3 weeks. What a change.. Shock is an understatement.
What is more clear was the fear and anxiety in the eyes of the providers. People I used to see always joking around, making Trump Jokes, and laughing and smiling -- you could now sense fear in their voice.
Fatigue was evident in the nurses and ICU docs... but they were not giving up.
Renal consultations came every hour and it was all COVID-19 intubated patient in AKI, needing CRRT. It was pre renal, ATN, AIN, who knows-- we were just trying to save whoever we could...
The fellow and I scared to enter rooms, no time to even take a bathroom break and not sure how to even eat at the cafeteria.
Sadness, fear and anxiety was evident everywhere....1/3 of admitted COVID-19 patients end up in ICU, staying longer and longer stays ( 2 weeks) on a ventilator.. and what happens after that.. renal failure, cardiac failure.
But....what also was evident and most inspiring to me was...
Never before seen- working together of teams of residents and attendings ever imagined.
One of the covid-19 ICUS was headed by a surgical intensivists, vascular surgery attending, medicine residents, and pulmonary team helping out-- what amazing team work..
Then comes the NSICU, another converted COVID-19 unit- intensivists out of their comfort zone providing amazing medical ICU care to these COVID patients.
Finally, pediatric ICU docs coming to help the adult ICU patients- working hand in hand with pulmonary fellows, medical residents, neurology residents... amazing amazing!!
Kudos to the hospital management, CEO, CMOs, and department chairs to get this together in 2 weeks and creating this team work environment.
While the hospital is now a COVID-19 hospital and increasing number of ICU beds, everyone has stepped up outside their comfort zone and created history at our institution.
There are some wins-some patients coming extubated and many getting discharged.. While we may loose many, we are also saving many lives.. Kudos to our ER, hospital medicine and ICU staff and amazing nurses and health care providers...
Consults have become real, people are not calling "non needed' consults
Note writing has been minimized... and communication has improved.
While there is fear in everyone's eyes, we also sensed and felt a sense of pride to battle this war with our invisible enemy...
One of my Nephrology friends said it perfectly "This is literally a battle zone which we are dealing with. Quite honestly, for the most part could exhilarating. You are living history. Nothing has prepared us for this. Soak it in.... Hopefully, 40 years from now, you will be telling your grandkids how you served on the front lines of the great 2020 pandemic. You may never again have the opportunity to be involved in something more meaningful again."
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