NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – No one knows the impact of the coronavirus pandemic more than the medical professionals on the front lines.
They face an endless stream of patients, and a dire need for equipment.
CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas took a look at what they have to endure to keep people safe.
If New York City is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, then Elmhurst Hospital is ground zero. Thirteen patients recently died there in just a 24 hour span.
Video posted by The New York Times taken by an emergency care physician there shows how stretched thin they are.
“I want people to know that this is bad. People are dying. We don’t have the tools that we need,” said Dr. Colleen Smith, of Elmhurst Hospital.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that 40 additional ventilators and 56 staff members were sent to Elmhurst Hospital.
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Each day patients, many with cold and flu-like symptoms, line up outside to be tested. It’s located in Queens, a borough which accounts for nearly a third of all COVID-19 cases in New York City.
“Our concern is that we don’t have the resources like masks and other protective equipment,” said Anthony Almojera of the EMS officers union.
The call for more protective equipment is a refrain being heard from medical professionals across the city.
“It is dire. Nobody was prepared and nobody had a stockpile,” said Michael Greco, vice president of the uniformed EMTs, paramedics and inspectors union.
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Doctors and first responders are also getting sick. Add to that the overwhelming amount of patients, and long hours are beginning to take its toll.
“9/11 didn’t have this many calls. We’re doing it now everyday for the last two weeks the call volume has gone up and up,” Almojera said.
City ambulances have seen a surge in calls, responding to nearly 5,800 Thursday.
“From the perspective of being properly prepared, the training is there. The equipment is not,” Almojera said.
With each passing day, the number of infections continues to balloon as the death toll reaches grim milestones.
“People come in. They get intubated. They die. The cycle repeats,” said Dr. Steve Kasspidis, an ICU doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital.
At New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, a new refrigerated trailer now serves as a makeshift morgue. Officials say it more than doubles the hospital’s capacity.
Over at the Javits Center, where four temporary hospitals will be set up, cots are assembled. It’s an alternate site to ease the bed shortage at New York hospitals.
In a statewide PSA, a Manhattan ICU nurse named Kelly urges residents to heed the warnings.
“Lives are on the line and it’s not a joke and it’s not an exaggeration. I see it day in and day out,” she says.
Meantime, medical professionals are on the front lines doing their part, regardless of the circumstances and personal impact, are hoping to save lives.
The Queens borough president said anyone still in denial about how dire the situation is should use this as an alert – not for panic, but for making the right choices.
Health experts still expect cases to peak in the coming weeks.
PHOTO GALLERY: Life In New York City Under The Coronavirus