A German medic fighting the coronavirus epidemic in New York says they are no longer trying to reanimate desperately ill patients in order to free up breathing machines for new arrivals.
The shocking revelation was made by Dr Sigrid Wolfram, 50, who was speaking at the end of a five-day shift to German newspaper Bild.
The paper reported how she was tortured every evening when she tried to sleep between 3am and 7am, and instead of sleeping, the exhausted medic mostly spends every night tossing and turning – worrying about the people that she has left behind.
They are her patients, all suffering from fevers, coughs and vomiting, and her thoughts are always ‘how many have survived the night?’ and ‘how many beds are free for the next influx of the sick?’
The paper said that the blonde woman had a face streaked with tears as she spoke about the battle for the lives of her patients day and most of the night.
Dr Wolfram, who is a mother of two children aged 10 and 12, left Germany in 1995 to study medicine in America. She stayed and is now an emergency doctor in New York.
She works in Kings County Hospital which has 600 beds and told the newspaper: “We almost only have coronavirus patients. The children’s ward was converted because the intensive care unit is full. Tents were set up in front of the hospital so that the sick did not have to wait outside.
“You hear ‘Code 99’ every hour (a patient needs immediate resuscitation). We already call it ‘COVID 99’. But we’re not doing so much reanimation now, the patients are all dying. Then you have a breathing machine free. It’s perverted – but that’s simply the reality.”
She said the two worst things were battling to save patients’ lives and seeing them die, and having to deal with relatives.
She said: “The families of the sick are not allowed to see them. Not even to accompany them on the final journey. I’m not allowed to let anybody in. They are dying alone. Doesn’t matter if they are 60 or 90.”
The newspaper said that tears were flowing freely as she spoke to them about being the only person there to offer comfort as people were dying in front of her.
She said: “You cannot do anything. They are all dying. I hold them by the hands and then they die. Without family.”
The city is at the epicentre of the pandemic in the US with the latest statistics from the Johns Hopkins University recording 3,048 deaths.
Outside the hospital where chaos reigns, the streets of the city of 8.5 million people are empty.
Dr Wolfram said they need urgent assistance from outside, adding: “This is just the beginning. We need help from other countries.
“Patients are being sent home who should actually be intubated.
“We tell them to take Tylenol (a fever and pain reliever) and that they come back if their health gets worse.”
Asked by the paper where she gets the motivation to keep going, she said: “It is my duty. Somebody has to do it and I am happy to be there in this time of need. I’m also trying to spread that message to everybody working around me, I’m grateful that they are there too.”
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Story By: Michael Leidig, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
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