COVID outbreaks impacts emergency medicine

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PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Geisinger Health System reports all but one of its nine hospitals are exceeding inpatient capacity.

The increased spread of COVID-19 is to blame and it’s also impacting the emergency room.

Geisinger held a virtual media briefing Wednesday revealing that its emergency departments are dealing with wait times often 10 hours or longer. A doctor who’s on the front lines of emergency treatment shares her harrowing experience while making an emotional plea to the public.

“We’re almost two years into this and it still feels like every day is a crisis when we go to work,” Dr. Essie Reed said.

Geisinger Wyoming Valley Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Essie Reed is speaking not only for herself, but also her colleagues on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“The easiest way to describe that feeling is that we’re sort of always feeling like we’re waiting for the Jenga tower to fall and we just never know when that’s going to come,” Dr. Reed said.

Dr. Reed calls the experience very defeating for healthcare workers who fight for their patients’ well being inside emergency departments and hospital rooms, but see what she likens to a parallel world outside of work.

“Society sort of feels like, oh this pandemic is behind us and we’re going on with our daily lives,” Dr. Reed said.

But the numbers say otherwise. The overspill of patients caused by an uptick in COVID-19 is causing wait times of up to 20 hours in emergency rooms

“We’re starting to practice waiting room medicine which is something I never imagined I would see in my career. We’re diagnosing perforated bowel and running CT scans and doing lab work and any sort of test that we can from patients that are waiting for us in the waiting room,” Dr. Reed said.

COVID patients who require hospitalization are also waiting to be admitted.

“We’re starting oxygen on COVID patients in the hallway and those hallway beds are often double and triple bunked. And we’re doing that because we’re trying to make space to see more patients as all of our inpatient beds and ICU beds are full,” Dr. Reed said.

Dr. Reed is making an impassioned plea for the public to take the pandemic seriously and get vaccinated for their physical well being and for the well being of her colleagues.

“We want to do our best to support each other so that we’re not taking our turns crying in the med closet over unnecessarily watching patients die,” Dr. Reed said.

Dr. Reed urged any eligible community members who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID to speak with a trusted health care professional. She said they’ll have the information you need to feel comfortable to get the vaccine.

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