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The curve of COVID-19 is beginning to flatten in New York City: Admissions to the ICU dropped for the first time on Friday. But that doesn’t mean life on the front lines is getting any easier.
Medical workers are warning that even if the number of new hospitalizations reaches a plateau, hospital resources in the city — and the staff required to keep them running — will continue to be stretched thin.
“I think it’s too soon to have hope,” said KP Mendoza, an ICU nurse from Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, who’s spent the last few weeks working in an overwhelmed COVID-19 ward. “My patient ratio, my patient safety, my stress as an ICU nurse won’t diminish. It’s still gonna be bad in hospitals for a long time.”
While much of the media’s focus has been on ER physicians and ventilator stockpiles, intensive care nurses are just as scarce of a resource. They’re the specialized caregivers responsible for executing treatment plans for the most critically-ill patients.
In addition to treating patients, Mendoza also has to navigate a number of other taxing experiences during the crisis: He helps his patients make video calls to their families for what may be their last moment together. He’s also concerned about the personal protective equipment he’s been given to use while working with COVID patients in the ICU.