Sobering statistics at The Valley Hospital in Bergen County: 39 coronavirus deaths since mid-March, including a Valley doctor.
“It has been a very tough situation for everybody to deal with emotionally. When you see your own colleagues, that brings it really home to a lot of people, and definitely brings up the anxiety level,” said Dr. Robert Brenner, president of clinical integration at The Valley Hospital.
Brenner says on Friday The Valley Hospital had 140 COVID-19 patients. As of Wednesday morning, it had 198 confirmed.
“We knew that our colleagues at Holy Name were undergoing an influx of patients, and then a week later we saw it happen here at Valley, so it’s been staggering,” he said.
Brenner says three-fourths of all the care at The Valley Hospital is devoted to the coronavirus. That means COVID-19 has taken over units for other care. It also means there are stories of success.
“Yesterday we had two people come off ventilators,” he said. “That’s been an amazing feat. If you saw the reaction of our nurses, our nurses stood there and cried. They took pictures with one another in their PPE. We had the community out supporting us with banging pots and pans outside of the Valley Health System. We have our community donating meals, donating money, donating homemade masks.”
The high-level of COVID-19 care also means have to exchange supplies with other hospitals. Life-saving supplies such as six ventilators.
“I don’t even want to think about where we’d be without the collaboration,” he said.
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is an issue, so staff members improvise and innovate.
“Engineering has put holes in the walls of the unit rooms so nurses don’t have to go in and out and over-utilize PPE, and conserve on PPE, so that they can actually make adjustments into the IV fluids, which are multiple, through a hole in the wall the tubing is coming through,” Brenner said.
Hospital employees take cloth gowns to the laundromat to wash them. Others with needle and thread patch up holes. The Valley Hospital says everyone’s pitching in and donors have been very generous.
H&P Sewing, that had been making sportswear, is now making masks and bonnets for The Valley Hospital. Its owner got a visit one Sunday at home after he had laid off some 20 workers and now has re-hired 10.
“Sunday at 3 o’clock I came to my factory and opened the door. I made four or five pieces of samples and I gave them to the vice president of Valley Hospital. Monday they call me back and say, ‘Go ahead, start to make 10,000 pieces,'” said H&P Sewing owner Joseph Minasin.
The owner says he’s getting calls from other hospitals that realize there is no masking their growing needs in a pandemic.
“No one has ever seen anything like this,” Brenner said.