COVID-19: A Dispatch from NYC, Part 3
At the time of this writing, my hospital has cared for 6,690 patients and seen an additional 4,355 patients who sought emergency treatment but did not need to be admitted since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, over the past week, we’ve seen our numbers of new COVID-19 positive patients drop significantly. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am optimistic about the progress.
On the first real spring day since I’ve been here, which also happened to be my first day off in a while, I signed up for a free account with a bicycle sharing system and went on a long bike ride. Central Park was full of people jogging, riding bikes, walking, playing catch and exercising. It was like kids being released on their first day of summer vacation.
There was electricity in the air as people seemed to be so overjoyed to finally be outside and have some sense of normalcy in their lives again. When I arrived back at the hotel, there was a group of people with signs supporting the healthcare workers as we walked in. I was awed that people in the neighborhood were making an effort to help.
The support from the community and the hospital administration has been tremendous and uplifting. Every day, local restaurants supply food for the staff, the hospital administration provides an informative and inspirational message, with updates on statistics, information on free services for the staff, wellness and mindfulness information, and services for grieving, stress management and other mental health issues.
Every day at 7 p.m., first responders and healthcare workers face each other outside the hospital and cheer in support of one another for several minutes while sirens blare from the police cars and fire trucks. It is a very moving experience that unites two groups of professionals who provide vital services during these challenging times.
I anticipate a further decline in new cases as existing patients recover enough to leave the hospital and people begin to return to “normal.” The hospital plans to resume elective procedures slowly at first with many precautions in place.
I have five 12-hour night shifts in a row starting tonight. Then I will pack my bags and begin a 14-day quarantine before returning to work. I look forward to seeing all of you again — I am very much looking forward to being home!