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COVID-19 vaccine trials: Thousands volunteer for ‘challenge trial’

joining us now is leah carpenter nurse and ceo of memorial hospital west in pembroke pines florida part of the memorial health care system uh leah thank you for being with us um i i mean it's a it's a remarkable story that you've actually had to pitch in uh you're obviously not doing it for the photo ops so you actually have staffing problems we've heard about personal protective equipment shortages we've heard of convalescent plasma possible shortages we still don't have adequate testing equipment around this country but you also on top of that have a staffing problem that is correct um i can tell you we started really initially having um space concerns but with a little creativity and ingenuity of my of my construction teams we've been able to expand and create additional spaces elsewhere in the hospital we're staffing adequately at this time but i can tell you that it's more related to nurses taking additional shifts and really just their commitment to making sure that our patients have everything that they need so many of my nurses are taking one to two additional 12-hour shifts a week and um they do it with a smile on their face but we're concerned we're concerned about their well-being yeah i'm always fascinated when i'm in a hospital uh to see nurses and doctors uh with a smile on their face uh understanding that the turmoil and the the trauma that goes along with that job how is everybody holding out because we have now we are now into our fifth month of of medical professionals being on the front line of this devastating illness so i think a lot of it has to do with leadership um it starts at the top with our board and um our senior execs we make every effort to make sure that our employees are well taken care of not just from a financial standpoint but making sure that their mental emotional spiritual well-being is taken care of as well and we give a great deal of focus on that even while they're on their ships making sure they have the support that they need you know it's not just about the ventilators and all of the equipment that they need but we need to make sure that their physical and emotional well-being is is healthiest is healthy too tell me what you're seeing in the hospital with respect to patients for those in the country who still think this is a civil rights issue and they should be free to hang out with anyone they want not wear masks and not social distance what's the message that what you're seeing uh makes you want to deliver so my message would be that this is a this is as real as it gets and if we don't all come together in terms of masking social distancing and frankly keeping away from each other just for a little while this is going to get worse it's not a joke um the masks are absolutely needed and i i just can't stress enough that if we don't all do our part you will absolutely overwhelm the hospitals and we won't be able to do what it is that we're we're destined to do i want you to talk to me a little bit about what overwhelming the hospitals means in broward and palm beach county hospitals are at 83 percent and 73 of capacity and all but a handful say that their intensive care units are at or near capacity the reason i ask you to tell me what this means is because for people who think they're not going to get kovid emergency rooms and icu beds exist for everybody who gets sick in any way in an accident in your appendix something goes wrong with your appendix you need emergency care when these icus are full they're full for everybody that's absolutely right it's so dire at this point where we've had to actually separate parts of our hospital so we have two emergency rooms now we have one for as you said appendicitis and all of those other you know very very critical issues that people come to an emergency room for and then we have a separate emergency room strictly for covet so that we can isolate those patients and prevent the spread right now my icu is at 187 percent capacity and i'm able to do that by creating additional spaces but it is what it is sooner or later we will run out of space so we've got to get control over this disease and we have got to stop the spread um you know the good news is is that about 98 of the people who come to the hospital are discharged but if you go into an icu you have a 30 to 35 chance of never leaving and so it's very serious and we have to make sure that we're not just thinking about ourselves you know many of the young people have heard oh young people are not impacted by it but first of all they are we're starting to see younger people impacted and sick and in our icus but more importantly they're the ones who are spreading it to those who are most vulnerable so there is no one who is immune from covet it does not discriminate against anyone let me ask you about the euphemisms that different medical systems use for describing triage you as a nurse know that word well right you are endlessly evaluating what level of care a person needs when emergency rooms and icu beds become full there are all sorts of things in arizona they're using diversion emergency rooms are saying we're not accepting uh hospital rooms or people are getting checked out but it's all some version of triage it's all some version of someone making a decision about your health care that's not you because the capacity there's there's no more capacity so it the the fact is is people can use the word diversion as often as they'd like to but in florida there really is no diversion there is an expectation that patients are going to be taken to the closest facility for their well-being so you're not exempt from that just because you're full um the triage happens at that point it also happens when you when they actually arrive to the hospital at which point we determine where they are best fit are they going to go into a covet tent are they going to go into a coveted icu or to a covert er or are they going to go into a general emergency room so there's varying phases of where that triage can happen leah carpenter we are grateful to you for the work you're doing and for the work you're doing not just as the ceo of memorial hospital west in pembroke pines but for the work that you're doing as a nurse uh when you are short-handed thank you for your time this evening and we wish you the best of luck thank you so much