TEANECK, N.J. (WCBS 880) — A large number of coronavirus cases have appeared in Bergen County, New Jersey, where one hospital system continues to be overwhelmed by patients.
When the coronavirus spread to New Jersey, cluster of cases formed in Teaneck and almost immediately, state and local officials moved to try to contain the spread of the virus.
Officials say the best way to do that is by practicing social distancing and ensuring the healthcare system is equipped to help the most vulnerable.
However, hospitals can still become overwhelmed even with those measures – as was the case at Holy Name Medical Center.
The hospital system has seen hundreds of COVID patients with around 60 deaths.
Now, doctors are creating daily changes to care for those in desperate need.
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell spoke with Dr. Suraj Suggar, chief of infectious disease at the medical center, to learn more about how they are handling the situation in this week’s 880 In Depth Podcast.
“The pandemic has transformed our hospital into almost all Covid cases. By the end of this week, thanks to the engineers and all the maintenance and facility plant workers, we have over 100 ICU beds in areas you would not normally see that,” Dr. Suggar said.
He says all hands are on deck in order to ensure the hospital is providing for its patients and keeping everybody, including their workers, safe. The hospital is also working around the clock to figure out what treatments may work on COVID patients.
“We started off by utilizing and trying some old medications that have been used for HIV that was thought to have some efficacy against COVID-19.Within a week, we realized they weren’t doing anything,” Dr. Suggar said.
They have also tried hydroxychloroquine, the drug touted by President Trump, but Dr. Suggar clarifies, “Unfortunately, there is no great evidence for any effective treatment.”
While certain medications may end up having positive results, Dr. Suggar urges the public to understand that “this is not a one pill cure all, it’s not a slam dunk.”
“It's almost like Groundhog Day the movie, though this is not funny,” he said of the hospitals conditions.
“The workload is endless and we don’t even know what day it is because every day is exactly the same,” he adds.
On a positive note, Dr. Suggar expresses his gratitude toward those who work tirelessly to supply the hospital with what they need during this time.
“It is the respiratory techs who are helping take care of the vents. It’s the nurse practitioners and PAs who are helping us very much,” he said.
While so much of this disease is still unknown, experts are learning more every day and Dr. Suggar says Holy Name Medical Center will not stop fighting to find ways to treat it and take care of their patients.