An American doctor has talked about the stark reality of coronavirus and how those who die by the virus do so in a lonely manner.
Writing an opinion piece for the New York Times, critical care doctor Daniela J. Lamas says her patients will suffer in solitary confinement with no family or friends around them.
Dr Lamas, a doctor at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, shared the heartbreaking story of telling a husband he had to leave his wife's bedside.
"I had to tell him. There was no way to soften the blow. The hospital is changing its rules, I said. No more visitors. When you leave today, you both need to say goodbye," she wrote.
"I watched their faces shift. My patient's breathing quickened, and her ventilator alarm sounded. Her husband quickly moved his hand to her shoulder and her breaths slowed; the alarms silenced. He knew how to calm her. He had been there through all of it — hospitalizations for cystic fibrosis, the transplant, the bouts of rejection. When we took away her voice with the tracheostomy tube, he spoke for her.
"But now, as we tighten our protocols to protect our patients from the threat of Covid-19, she's alone."
Dr Lamas wrote of another patient who had to keep in touch with family members via FaceTime and how hard that was.
"I took care of one such patient who was intubated when he started coughing up blood on the general medical floor. He was alone in his room, on FaceTime with his daughter, when it started. So that is the last image she has of her father — on a shaky computer screen, blood staining his hospital gown. I offer her updates over the phone, but the truth is that I am not sure when she will be able to see him again.
"Or even if she will be able to see him."
In New York state there have been more than 25,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 210 deaths.
Yesterday, the U.S. saw its biggest jump yet in the death toll from the virus, with more than 600 American deaths now attributed to Covid-19.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo said his state's hospital system will soon hit a breaking point — resulting in avoidable deaths — even with the restrictions already in place.
Health experts have made clear that unless Americans continue to dramatically limit social interaction — staying home from work and isolating themselves — the number of infections will overwhelm the health care system, as it has in parts of Italy, leading to many more deaths.
Writing for the New York Times, Dr Lamas said the pressure was on the medical workers.
"As critical care doctors, we now understand that our patients and their families carry with them invisible scars from their time in the intensive care unit — anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress. The words we use matter. And I know that we are overworked and afraid that we won't have the equipment we need to protect ourselves. But I worry that unless we find some way to mitigate the overwhelming isolation this virus has created, we will leave a fleet of wounded patients and family survivors in its wake," she added.