Dr. Paul Silka stood near the main entry to the emergency department at Regional Medical Center in San Jose and gazed down a row of glass-walled isolation rooms. He’d planted himself in a corner, where he could observe the scuttle of activity on a busy Tuesday morning without being in the way. The isolation doors were closed, red signs taped to the windows warning that these were likely COVID-19 patients. Back in February, when the first coronavirus patients arrived, hospital staff had thought these four negative-pressure rooms, built to prevent the spread of airborne pathogens, would be enough. They could secure COVID patients in this corridor before moving them upstairs to inpatient wards. Silka, director of emergency medicine, laughed under his breath. “God, we were so naive then,” he said. All four of the isolation rooms were occupied Tuesday, along with every other room in the emergency department, and in nearly every window was the striking red sign. In one room, normally used for suturing wounds or other minor procedures, a woman with COVID-19 was on a machine to help her breathe, waiting for an inpatient bed to become available. The scene at Regional was emblematic of the increasingly dire… Read full this story
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