'We have said it feels like a tsunami.' DMC sheds light on local survival stories in fight against COVID-19

Posted at 5:32 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 18:36:09-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — It has now been about one month since the first COVID-19 patient arrived at a hospital for care in metro Detroit. Since, area hospitals have been hit extraordinarily hard.

“We’re solving problems we never thought we were going to have to solve,” said Dr. Rudolph Valentini, DMC Chief Medical Officer.

Dr. Valentini says the COVID-19 pandemic has been no doubt globally and locally catastrophic.

“We have said it feels like a tsunami. It feels like it hit us and the waves are still coming,” he said.

As those waves of sick patients hit hospitals, he knows at times there were more patients than staff could handle. On Monday two nurses who quit, saying they felt unable to provide the standard of care patients deserve at the DMC’s Sinai Grace Hospital, spoke to 7 Action news.

“It was just Joey and I in our TCU with 26 patients,” said Mikaela Sakal, Former Sinai Grace Nurse, as she sat beside nurse Joseph Friedman.

“We were running out of oxygen tanks. so they found extension tubing and little connectors. We’ve got tubing taped on the floors from the ventilated rooms for these patients on non-rebreathers in the hallway…. these patients are so sick,” said Sakal.

Then as I interviewed Dr. Valentini, CNN broke a story as other nurses reported at least two patients allegedly dying in Sinai Grace emergency room hallways before help could arrive.

“We have continued to fly people in from out of town to try to help us. We’ve reached out to the state. We have reached out to Region Two South to ask for support as have other hospitals in Southeastern Michigan who have been heavily overrun by the volume impacting out region,” said Dr. Valentini.

He says that is why Thursday he is sharing pictures thanking the staff that continue to come to work. He says he knows they are stressed and sometimes don’t see the results of their work.

He wants them to know that Sinai Grace has discharged 426 COVID-19 survivors and Adult Central Campus has discharged 854 COVID-19 survivors. He says right now it appears the waves of the tsunami that is the COVID-19 crisis are hitting with slightly less force. He says if we all work together, there is reason for hope.

He hopes the boards create optimism that helps not only workers, but patients.

“And then when we guide the next patient that comes into the emergency department we can use that positive energy to fuel that interaction and give people a sense of optimism when they feel like their world might be coming to an end,” said Dr. Valentini.

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