A physician assistant working in the emergency room of a hospital in the New York borough of Queens described an “every man for themselves” atmosphere surrounding personal protective equipment (PPE). CNN is not naming this health care worker because they feared repercussions at the hospital for speaking to the media.
This physician assistant told CNN staff were informed two days ago that they would have to make their N95 mask last for five days and that they have been given tips by management about how to keep them clean.
PPE is being prioritized for those staff working with intubated patients, who are the most at risk of infection, the physician’s assistant said. Intubation is when a tube is inserted through the mouth and into the patient’s airway, so the patient can be placed on a ventilator to assist with breathing.
The physician assistant hasn’t heard when the hospital will receive more supplies.
You have people out on the streets that have masks and meanwhile the hospitals are all running out of masks,” the physician assistant told CNN.
The physician assistant described a crowded ER that is essentially doubling as an intensive care unit due to the large numbers of people who need to be intubated due to Covid-19.
“There’s patients everywhere,” the physician assistant said.
Chairs and stretchers are being brought in to compensate for the influx of patients. Oxygen supplies are being replaced constantly.
“I think that no one ever expected to need this many supplies in a short period of time,” the worker said.
The ER worker emphasized that they felt the hospital administration and management’s support of staff has been “pretty impressive” and that they have been checking in on the ER staff’s needs, even helping staff members find hotel rooms so that they do not need to go home and possibly sicken their families.
The physician assistant wanted to emphasize to the public the importance of social distancing to help stop the spread of the virus.
“You need to stay home, you need to stay away from people” they told CNN.