An intensive care physician said the COVID-19 situation in her hospital is worse now than it ever has been.
Hospital officials at Elliot Hospital in New Hampshire report the intensive care unit typically has 14 beds. The surge this week is up to 26 ICU patients, and most are battling COVID-19.
There are so many sick patients, the hospital opened a surge ICU on the fifth floor and now the state is making contingency plans for what they call a disruption in post-mortem care — more bodies than the hospital morgue can hold.
“They're sicker. They're younger. A lot of them don't have any pre-existing conditions and it's scary,” Dr. Laura McPhee, of Elliot Hospital’s intensive care unit, said.
McPhee was working Wednesday, which is normally her day off.
“We have so many patients in the ICU right now that we are all pulling extra shifts and coming in extra days to work,” McPhee said.
The doctor has been keeping a video diary.
“We're caring for three to four times as many patients as we ever have and we don't have enough staff to do so. We're tired. It's been extremely hard on everybody,” McPhee said.
The Disaster Medical Assistance Team deployed to assist front-line health care workers at Elliot Hospital is leaving Wednesday. Hospital officials said the two-week mission cut down emergency department triage time and allowed 47 patients to get care faster.
“We knew this day would have to come that they would have to leave, but we are grateful to have had them for the time that we had, which was some of the most extraordinary volume levels for us,” Tate Curti, chief operating officer at Elliot Hospital, said.
There’s a refrigerator truck in the back of the hospital for overflow from the morgue – a grim reminder of COVID-19’s most devastating effects.
“We are not using that piece of equipment now. As I understand it, a number of them will be distributed geographically throughout the state. We are but one facility who has one,” Curti said.
“This doesn't have to happen. I've not ever seen a patient here in the ICU who's been fully vaccinated with the booster. Not one,” McPhee said.
McPhee recalled thinking the end was in sight over the summer when they had no COVID-19-positive patients in ICU. She is incredulous to realize it's worse right now than it's ever been. She said this is all preventable.