‘We're in Disaster Mode’: Courage Inside a Brooklyn Hospital Confronting Coronavirus: New York Times FeatureMarch 26, 2020
By Sheri Fink, New York Times
Test kits and protective gear have been in short supply, doctors are falling sick, and every day gets more difficult. But the staff keeps showing up.
It was not even 9 in the morning and Dr. Sylvie de Souza’s green N95 mask, which was supposed to form a seal against her face, was already askew.
In freezing rain on Monday, she trudged in clogs between the emergency department she chairs at the Brooklyn Hospital Center and a tent outside, keeping a sharp eye on the trainee doctors, nurses and other staff members who would screen nearly 100 walk-in patients for the coronavirus that day.
Inside her E.R., more than a dozen people showing signs of infection waited for evaluation in an area used just a few weeks ago for stitches and casts. Another dozen lay on gurneys arranged one in front of the next, like a New York City car park. One man on a ventilator was waiting for space in the intensive care unit.
Minutes before paramedics wheeled in a heart attack patient, Dr. de Souza pointed to beds reserved for serious emergencies, separated by a newly constructed wall from the suspected virus cases. “This is our safe area,” she told a reporter. Then she corrected herself: “This is thought to be safe.” There was really no way to know.
The virus descended on the hospital three weeks ago. Dr. de Souza began writing down details of each potential case on a sheet of paper, a list that has grown to more than 800 patients, most of them seen in the walk-in tent.