Doctors in NJ adjust to new reality of battling coronavirus

The front line in the war against the coronavirus is unmistakably drawn right in our local hospitals.

And for doctors in Bergen County, New Jersey, one of the hotspots, it's meant instant adaptation to save lives, says Dr. Stephen Brunquell, President of the Englewood Health Physican Network.

"I think it's fair to say that everything has changed," said Brunnquell. "The Hospital doesn't look the same, we're all doing different jobs, our day-to-day routines are completely different. I don't think anything was the same as it was a month ago."

As the virus spread endangering and claiming many lives and the sick flooded the emergency department, Dr Brunquell says Englewood Hospital had to quickly expand to fill the need. They added beds wherever they could, tripling the number in the ICU. They quadrupled their number of ventilators to 40. Elective surgeries were suspended and those doctors and nurses put on COVID-19 duty.

"Medical professionals or not, no one has ever seen anything like this, no one has ever experienced or witnessed something like this, and clearly there was no lecture in medical school that taught you how to operate a hospital during a pandemic," he said.

Dr. Brunnquell says they currently are treating just over 200 covid-19 patients. In the beginning as the case load exploded, they had to devise effective treatments for a disease that has been around for less than 6 months, with  little clinical research. He says the first wave they treated were many people with serious medical conditions, but now they're getting more essential services workers who were relatively healthy. There is constant communication and reassessment among their medical team.

"We change our plans sometimes on a daily basis not because we're flip flopping, not because we don't know what to do," he said. "It's because the ground is shifting under your feet, and you have to be nimble, you have to respond because this thing changes almost every day."


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