MARLBORO (CBS) – There is a sense of calm inside the Marlborough Hospital Intensive Care Unit. Two rooms are open; only one patient is on a ventilator; and the nurses and staff chat in a relaxed manner.
Dr. Kim Robinson, a pulmonologist and head of the Critical Care Team at Marlborough says it was a very different scene during the spring coronavirus surge.
“We would get calls – this patient’s oxygen level is low; this patient is setting off alarms on the ventilator – and you needed to run into every room to check on these patients,” Robinson said.
During three intense weeks in April, Robinson said all 10 of the community hospital’s ICU beds had COVID-19 patients and four surge beds were filled as well.
There were scares of personal protective equipment shortages.
“There was a time that we were running low on gowns, so sometimes I would just come up to the door and we would write notes on stickies,” Robinson said.
There were also plenty of people on ventilators.
“The hardest part was the patients dying alone,” she said.
Robinson said the onslaught let up in mid-June to give her and her colleagues a summer break. Now, she fears that break is over.
“We had zero to one patients for several months. Over the past week, we had one day with four patients,” she said.
The patients appear to be less sick, hospital stays are shorter and mortality is down.
“Part of that may be the virus. We don’t know. And part of that is our ability to diagnose and treat,” she said.
However, Robinson has concerns about what a winter COVID-19 wave could do to the region’s hospitals.
“People are still sick enough to require hospitalization, and we will overwhelm our hospital resources as we’ve seen in states right now such as Utah, Wisconsin, and El Paso, Texas,” she said.