Doctors and nurses on the front lines against the coronavirus pandemic in South Florida hospitals are concerned about having adequate protection against infection, but so far most say their facilities are doing a good job of providing it.
About 100 hospital professionals responded this week to a survey conducted by the NBC6 Investigators through Survey Monkey, providing a snapshot of conditions inside their facilities as the effort to treat patients begins to gear up.
In comments detailing their answers, though, many express concerns about whether enough personal protection equipment (PPE) will be available if, as expected, emergency rooms see a flood of new patients.
"Let's be honest. We can't just run out of those protective equipment," said emergency physician Dr. Julio De Pena. "What is going to happen when we don't have it to protect ourselves? ... How are we going to take care of patients, protect ourselves, protect our families and our surroundings?"
A similar, more urgent concern was expressed by an anonymous commentator, who said, "I am not a superhero who can prevent myself from (contracting) the virus ... On top of fear of the virus, we don't have proper PPE to protect ourselves."
Two-thirds of those responding said they had "a lot" or a "great deal" of concern that they or a colleague would get infected.
"I'm in quarantine now from a patient that wasn't suspected," one health care professional wrote. "Now every patient is a suspected patient for me."
De Pena, who works in several area hospitals, said he knows of colleagues in intensive care.
While none of the respondents describes overwhelming, dire situations in hospitals, there is concern about what the future may hold.
Less than one in four believe their hospitals have enough resources to provide care, if there is a surge in patients. The remaining 77% are about equally split between saying they do not believe or do not know if it could be handled.
Those who expressed an opinion about what could be done to help lessen the impact echo De Pena, who said, "We have to lock it down. It's plain and simple. That's the only way to stop the spreading of this virus. People staying home."