To medical professionals in the U.S. state of Arizona, it seemed until now that footage of overcrowded hospitals, exhausted nurses, and bodies piled up in morgues showed some remote places like Wuhan or northern Italy.
But now they find themselves on the front lines in the fight against covid-19. Namely, Arizona is becoming one of the world’s hotbeds of coronavirus.
“We take care of the doctors who got infected, we take care of the mothers”
A nurse in the intensive care unit in Phoenix said tears well up in her eyes when she remembers all those people who died of covid-19 in her hospital. Medical staff in the Arizona capital describe crowded emergency services in which patients are placed on a respirator while waiting for a vacancy in an intensive care unit.
“We take care of the doctors who got infected, we take care of the mothers. Last week we took the 48-year-old mother off the life support machine and I stood next to her 17-year-old son until she passed away,” Angela Muzzy said. a nurse at Tucson Medical Center, where all 20 intensive care beds filled for coronavirus patients were filled.
More than 2,400 people were hospitalized in one week
Arizona state hospitals are now full of patients, some of whom are in critical condition. Arizona had more than 66,000 confirmed cases on Friday, up from just over 20,000 on June 1st. Thousands of new infections are reported every day, and so far 1,535 people have died, writes the AP.
More than 2,400 people were hospitalized this week, up from about 1,000 three weeks earlier. More than 600 beds are now filled in the intensive care unit, where two-thirds are infected on respirators and sedatives.
Patients on respirators are placed in an induced coma while machines breathe instead. They are connected to multiple infusions. They can stay in the intensive care unit for weeks or months.
The nurses have a 12-hour work shift, wearing protective suits, masks, gloves and goggles. Patients are cut off from their families, and often from reality. They are often turned on their stomachs to make their breathing easier. This procedure helps patients, but is a very arduous task for medical professionals; sometimes six to eight nurses need to be hired for this.
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“She suddenly got worse.”
Younger sisters find it hardest to die young people who were previously healthy. For example, they were very hard hit by the death of a woman under the age of 25 who died in Scottsdale.
“She suddenly got worse,” said Caroline Maloney, a nurse at HonorHealth’s Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center.
“It was very emotional. One nurse couldn’t talk about it at all anymore,” Maloney said.
In another case, a woman in her forties went to the emergency room with symptoms of coronavirus, was tested and sent home. Her family also fell ill and she returned to the hospital when her condition worsened. She soon ended up in the intensive care unit. At first she resisted being put on a respirator.
“She told me she was afraid of intubation. She asked me if I would stay here and hold her hand and I promised her she would be fine,” the nurse said.
“She survived two and a half weeks. We did everything… We did everything we could and she eventually died. Things like that happen all the time, all the time, all the time,” she added.
“I don’t think there’s a shift where someone doesn’t die. It’s awful. We’re already numb,” said another nurse working in the intensive care unit.
“I’ve never seen so many people die every day before,” she said.
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