‘A Little on Edge': Hospitals Prepare for Influx of Coronavirus Patients

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Health care workers in Massachusetts are bracing themselves for a spike in coronavirus patients.

The COVID-19 surge is expected to hit the state between April 7-17, according to the latest models to depict the spread of the virus.

"We are just all a little on edge," said Dr. Casper Reske-Nielsen, who works in the emergency room at Lahey Hospital.

The Burlington facility has been preparing for an influx of patients in recent weeks. While they feel ready, like most community hospitals, they anticipate challenges.

"We have 40-something beds and then we have a lot of hallway space," Reske-Nielsen explained. "But clearly, with acute respiratory illnesses, we should not be using hallway space if we can avoid it to avoid contamination."

To date, the hospital has had 45 employees test positive for the virus. In Boston, more than 300 employees contracted the disease at major hospitals, including at Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

"It has been really challenging," said Dr. Robbie Goldstein, an infectious disease specialist at Mass. General.

While the hospital has been preparing to handle patient loads, they expect the upcoming surge will put a new strain on staffing and medical equipment, like masks and ventilators. However, Goldstein hopes that efforts to social distance around the state could lessen the number of cases they see in the coming days.

"We are always preparing for a pandemic, always preparing for something like this," Goldstein explained. "But I don't think anyone could have prepared for this scale, this scope of what we are seeing right now."

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