The COVID pandemic has put hospitals in a unique and challenging position, as first responders navigate a disease that is new to the medical world.
COVID has infiltrated our society, particularly affecting the medical system. Doctors and nurses around the nation are working around the clock to treat the large amounts of COVID patients that are being admitted daily. There are currently about 100,000 Americans testing positive for the virus each day. Around 20,000 of those are being admitted to hospitals weekly.
“Sometimes things just turn really bad really fast. If you have a high fever, if you have any symptoms that are a little bit more than a cold, that’s when you should call to see if you need to go to the ER,” said Anne Hughitt, nurse practitioner located in San Diego. She cares for patients and helps determine if and when an individual should be admitted to the hospital.
The massive spread of COVID and the lack of knowledge regarding the virus has created a sense of fear in the medical community. Medical workers are concerned about effectively treating patients and avoiding contraction of the virus themselves.
“Work can be busy and stressful just because you’re taking care of patients when they’re in the hospital, and they’re sicker than usual. Stakes are high with patients and their family members. But this is the first time that I’ve actually had to go to work and even have some concern for my own safety,” said Dr. Joel Katz.
Dr. Joel Katz is a physician and internal medicine doctor at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. As an attending physician, or inpatient primary care doctor, Katz cares for admitted persons until they are discharged.
“It’s been a new experience taking care of patients with COVID, being more cautious using PPE in general for every encounter in the hospital as well as using specific types of PPE and extra precautions for known COVID patients,” said Katz.
Hoag Hospital reached its peak of positive COVID cases a few months ago, with an infection rate of 20 to 25 percent. Of those who are currently being examined, about 11 percent are testing positive for the virus. This number is gradually increasing as the nation transitions into the winter season.
Many hospitals across the country are reaching patient capacity, leaving little to no room for new patients. Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach is fortunate to not have reached maximum capacity. But that’s not to say that it isn’t happening for other hospitals in the area.
“There are definitely other hospitals in Orange County that are in worse shape and are at or closer to nearing capacity. It’s hard to estimate when that could happen and if it’ll happen. Hopefully it won’t, but obviously that’s a big moving target and just depends on how the fall and winter goes,” said Katz.
There are currently just over 2,000 people testing positive with COVID daily in Orange County. It’s important that people take extra precautions to reduce the spread of COVID, especially as the holidays approach when people would traditionally be traveling and gathering with friends and family.
“When you go out in public, you should wear a mask. You should wash your hands or use alcohol wipes frequently when you’re not in your home and you’re doing things. In general, travel is difficult right now. Going to places where you can’t socially distance and you could bring the virus from one place to another. I think that that’s something definitely that has been advised against as well,” said Katz.
To protect each individual, it is important that people follow the implemented guidelines put out by the government and comply with any stay-at-home orders.
“Think about how you can make sure your loved ones can be here for next Christmas. Because if you don’t, they may not be there for next Christmas,” said Hughitt.
Compliance of the safety restrictions is necessary: protect your loved ones, reduce the spread of COVID, and ensure the recovery of our nation.