The intensive care unit at Lankenau Medical Center was built to hold 32 patients. But since the coronavirus pandemic, the Montgomery County hospital has had to expand that to another floor and add more than a dozen beds.
Dr. Susan Gregory, director of the unit, said over the last few months, she and her team have been swamped by patients who are gravely ill with COVID-19.
“The reality is that in patients who require ICU level care for at least one organ, a significant percentage of those patients won't survive,” Gregory said.
Gregory said even though she and her staff constantly work with and around death, the mercilessness of coronavirus has been sobering for all of them.
“These deaths feel traumatic. This to me feels like a bus went off a cliff, because it feels like the people were struck by lightning,” she added.
She said every time someone is able to leave one of their 45 beds alive, it's a celebration for them.
“I don't think I have the right words to describe how joyful that feels for us,” she said.
Gregory said the days and hours may be long, but she will continue to persevere and do what's best for her patients.
“Feeling a sense of purpose and feeling needed is keeping us going,” she added.