A top New York City surgeon has issued two ominous memos, warning that the healthcare system could soon be overwhelmed and that healthcare workers are at risk.
In a memo made public by Columbia University’s Department of Surgery, the chair, Dr. Craig Smith, warned that “the virus has breached our Department walls” and colleagues are becoming infected.
He also warns that coronavirus cases could keep climbing, reaching their peak in 22 to 32 days.
At that point, the New York-Presbyterian health system could need up to 934 ICU beds — more than are currently available. Columbia University’s hospital is affiliated with New York-Presbyterian.
Smith also emphasized a dire shortage of personal protective equipment, noting that health care workers are using 40,000 N95 masks per day, and are projected to soon need 70,000 per day.
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One of New York City’s top surgeons issued a number of stark warnings in recent days about surging numbers of coronavirus patients and heightened risks to frontline healthcare workers.
Dr. Craig Smith, the surgeon-in-chief at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the chair of Columbia University’s Department of Surgery, sounded the alarm Friday about projections that the hospital system could “reach peak COVID-19 volume within 22-32 days.”
At that point, New York-Presbyterian would need 700 to 934 intensive care unit beds. It won’t have 700, even as it works to increase its capacity, Smith wrote in a letter to his colleagues.
“The hard data has become alarming,” Smith said. “I wish I could use a more comforting word.
In a pair of memos released publicly by Columbia University’s Department of Surgery, Smith says that New York City is the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
Every day Dr. Craig Smith, Chair of the Dept of Surgery, sends out a #Covid_19 update. We will be posting them here each evening.
This is the COVID-19 update for today, 3/20/20 pic.twitter.com/xCWRXWmXBB
— Columbia Surgery (@ColumbiaSurgery) March 20, 2020
New York officials have been rushing to slow the spread of the virus, implementing increasingly harsh restrictions on public life across the state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has urged New Yorkers to stay inside as much as possible, and on Friday banned all non-essential gatherings of any size and ordered all non-essential businesses to keep employees at home.
Even with the increased restrictions, New York’s hospital system appears headed for a crisis. Smith warned in one memo that frontline health care workers in the hospital system were at risk from treating their own patients.
“In the past few days it has also become obvious that the virus has breached our Department walls, and we can expect to hear about increasing numbers of infected Department colleagues,” he wrote in a memo published Saturday. “It should be no surprise if these infections appear in clusters associated with the care of infected patients.”
COVID-19 Update: Saturday, 3/21/20
Link to updated recommendations for conservation and reuse of PPE: https://t.co/03u5ZKac6u #Covid_19 pic.twitter.com/Z2v75ByrlN
— Columbia Surgery (@ColumbiaSurgery) March 21, 2020
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Source:: Business Insider