CHICAGO (CBS) — Some Chicago doctors say they have had to work up to 36 hours straight because of COVID-19. The months of physical and emotional strain are taking a toll, and they are now getting ready for what could be the worst surge yet.
The doctors and nurses at Northwestern Memorial Hospital have had to be nimble and adjust. Early this year Elin Cheng was working in the orthopedics until — until the first wave of COVID-19 patients arrived.
“It’s incredible because we always remind ourselves, like, we were orthopedic nurses, and now we are full blown considered experienced COVID nurses,” she said.
With new assignments comes relentless pressure. Dr. Marc Sala, an intensive care unit doctor at Northwestern said it is affecting their frame of mind.
“I think a few words would describe it. One would be fatigue,” said Marc Sala, an intensive care unit doctor at Northwestern.
“I think people are getting very tired. It’s been nonstop, really, since COVID-19 has come to the United States,” he said.
And now the doctors and nurses see the crowds at airports. Thanksgiving was days ago, and they’re preparing for a new surge of COVID cases.
“I just like seeing on the news, all the travelers at O’Hare, I’m just like, this was not what I want to see because I’m going through this again, and it just gives me more anxiety to see this. I’m like please just help relieve my anxiety. Stay at home, wear a mask,” Cheng said.
Still, though Doctor Sala says the situation is tense, he insists he and his colleagues are what he calls “battle ready,” armed with treatments they did not have months ago.
“I think the Remdesivir and the dexamethasone have made a difference as well as the proning, where you flip someone up onto their stomach, in order to get better oxygenation their lungs and body,” he said.
The doctors and nurses are also mindful of their own physical and mental health. Sala says the longest shift he has had to work since the COVID-19 pandemic began was about 36 hours straight — a day and a night shift.
Sala practices meditation. Cheng finds support from her colleagues.
“Talking it out, I think, is so helpful, and even on our bad days there’s always someone there to help you. I’ve never felt that I was in it alone,” she said.
Sala says medical workers or not, everyone is on the front lines. He adds there is a sense of hope with the vaccine coming.
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Source: CBS Chicago