Dr. Amanda Green recently spoke with an ICU nurse at Paris Regional Medical Center. The chief medical officer and medical director for the Paris-Lamar County Health Department said the nurse, Lana, isn’t just physically tired from working long hours but that caring for an influx of Covid-19 patients has taken an emotional toll on the staff, too.
“The increase of deaths is emotionally draining, especially when they are watching community members that they know die,” Green said. “They are sad for the patients and for the families that are not able to be by their family members dying of a highly infectious disease for more than short periods of time. Our team is very compassionate and continues to provide high quality care despite the barriers that this disease creates. Advice that Lana had for the community was to wear a mask and do whatever they can do to not get this virus.”
Covid-19 cases are on the rise in Lamar County, Green said, with the numbers of cases and patients reaching a crisis level. Texas now has the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the nation, Green said Lamar County is following the state’s trend.
“Locally, we mirror this rise, with 30 to 40 new infections on average reported a day to the health department,” she said. “Good control for a county our size would be one new infection per day.”
The ICU at PRMC is at full capacity, Green said, and staff are not only worried about patients but stressed about the possibility of bringing the virus home to their families and loved ones. Green said that the hospital has not seen any non-Covid ICU patients contract the virus.
“(Lana and I) discussed the emotional stress of caring for these very ill patients in full protective equipment, ensuring that the non-Covid patients are not exposed to the virus … and worrying secondarily about themselves and if they might get the virus and take it home to their family,” she said.
On the bright side, Green said PRMC is in line to receive doses of bamlanivimab, an antibody medication shown to prevent hospitalization for people who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“It will be ordered by a doctor and scheduled as an outpatient infusion,” she said.
In a Nov. 9 press release, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wrote that bamlanivimab is intended for “those who are 65 years of age or older, or who have certain chronic medical conditions,” factors that could make the progression of the disease more dangerous.
While Green said PRMC has seen support from the state in the form of extra nurses and respiratory therapists that have helped to care for the increasing number of patients, that the hospital could use help from community members practicing sanitization and social distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She said other area hospitals have reached a capacity where they cannot accept transfers, and PRMC is having difficulty doing the same.
“We need people to be responsible, wear their masks, keep distance from people, use good hand hygiene and stay home if able,” she said.
If the spread of the virus can be prevented in the first place, the hospital will be able to continue managing Covid cases as well as other injuries or conditions that require inpatient care.
“We are providing safe, excellent care, and want to be able to continue to serve as many community and surrounding community members as possible,” she said. “If patients are having stroke, heart attack, abdominal pain or other symptoms, they still need to seek care. We can provide safe, excellent care, and delaying care ends up being more likely to require an ICU bed for non-Covid problems.”