How hospitals are coping with treatment demand weeks into COVID-19 pandemic

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — We are weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic and hospitals and their staffs have now begun to establish routines as a result of the extra treatment they’re providing.

Duke University hospital is one facility which has moved from a reactive response to a more measured attempt to deal with the coronavirus.

“We’re nothing like the crush that’s hit New York or Michigan or New Orleans,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an Assoc. Prof. of Medicine at Duke University Hospital. “I don’t think we’re in that escalating surge we feared a few weeks ago—if anything we are seeing a flattening of the increase,” he added.

Surgeries for critical health conditions still need to be performed—and Duke says, those are still happening.

“For those people, it doesn’t matter if COVID-19 is here. If you need heart surgery or bypass or cancer surgery—you’ll have to come through and we’ll deal with you,” said Wolfe.

For hospital staff, this has been an extremely stressful time in dealing with pandemic treatment and disruption of routines and he says the hospital is trying to help them cope physically and mentally.

“There ways to make it easier—from team celebrations to having hotel rooms available for staff if they need not go home after a tenuous shift,” as well as care packages for staff who may be COVID-19 positive from time to time,” said Wolfe.

He says, “Stress comes in many different ways and I think we’re trying to accommodate all of them.”

Wolfe said procuring necessary supplies still remains a challenge as hospitals like duke conserve and find ways to re-clean some equipment.

There remain concerns that COVID-19 may not go away completely and the hospital is already thinking ahead about.

“The reality is—it’s not going to go away, said Wolfe. “Even if we remove some social isolation over the next couple of months this is going to be ever-present so we’re trying to figure out techniques to allow for a continual low-level amount in the community.”

So, until there is a vaccine that will mean a lot of readjustments to the way they do things not only in hospitals—but across the state and country.

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