ALL NEWS

Inside the ER: Doctor in New York details dire supply shortages

Apr 1, 2020, 7:06 AM

(CNN) — When Dr. Calvin Sun gets back to his New York City apartment after a 12-hour shift treating critically ill coronavirus patients, he heads straight to the kitchen sink to wash his ski goggles and ski jacket.

He scrubs and wipes, then sprays them with Lysol before hanging them up to dry. The items are his personal protective equipment, or PPE — improvised due to the severe shortage at hospitals across the city — and he’ll likely need to use them at work tomorrow.

As a per diem emergentologist who fills in shifts left empty by the increasing number of doctors calling out sick, Sun has the unique perspective of working in emergency rooms throughout the New York City area. Within the walls of each medical facility, he sees the same desperation.

Sun, a native New Yorker, documented his journey for CNN over the course of one week.

“We don’t have enough N95 masks. Some have run out completely. Some don’t even have gowns,” he said. “You can put me in the exact same ER and I would witness the exact same evolution of chaos.”

New York City is now the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak. Central Park and the city’s harbor have become makeshift hospitals, and nearly 1,200 employees of the police force have tested positive. City officials applied to the federal government for a second disaster relief morgue, one official said.

Statewide, 75,795 people had tested positive for Covid-19 through Wednesday morning, accounting for more than 40% of all US cases.


See also: Morgues and funeral homes in New York City say they are overwhelmed


Health care workers on the front lines, including thousands of New York’s nurses, are especially vulnerable to infection.

“In my particular emergency department, we have an area cordoned off for the Covid-positive patients and the presumptive positive patients, but because of a lack of space, they’re all housed together, which is a big problem for infection control,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the New York State Nurses Association.

Sun has been using social media to alert the public about the danger medical professionals face at New York City’s hospitals. Throughout the crisis, he’s been updating his Instagram story daily with dispatches from the trenches of this pandemic.

“I can speak on behalf of all my fellow colleagues in this fight that you’re never really sure what’s going to happen in the future, especially when it takes about five to eight days for you to catch it and develop symptoms,” he said. “And we can’t really test unless you have symptoms, given the lack of testing kits and (PPE) provided for us by the higher-ups.”

For weeks now, doctors across the nation have been emphasizing the importance of increased testing to understand the true scope of the spread of coronavirus. But Sun warns that showing up to the emergency room simply for a coronavirus test could be a potentially deadly move.

“Testing is so necessary to contain this spread. We need to screen everyone, but also, it’s not about what you do but how you do it,” Sun said. “Because let’s say you didn’t have Covid-19. And then you come to the emergency room to get a test, and then we test you. It’s gonna be negative, right.

“And then, a person sitting next to you coughs in your face because you’re in the emergency room. And then two to three days later, you get a phone call on that test you got two or three days ago. It’s negative. Then, you hug grandma, and then grandma gets Covid-19. And then two to three weeks later, I’m putting her on life support. That’s on you, right? It doesn’t make sense to come to an emergency room because of the risk of cross-contamination.”

Only those who cannot speak a full sentence without losing their breath should head to the ER, Sun said. Otherwise, monitor symptoms from home.

After finishing a 10-hour shift at 2 a.m. on March 27, an exhausted Sun caught a ride-share home and reflected upon another intense night.

“Today was just a sign that things are getting worse and worse. I had about three deaths in the span of the first six hours, he said. “One was truly sad. (He) waited a few days for a bed, and it was too full upstairs so he stayed in the ER, and from Covid-19, he just lost his pulses. We worked on him for an hour, and then he died.”

Despite the tremendous obstacles ahead, Sun is committed to the oath he took as a physician to care for the sick.

“This is still New York, and the lights are still on,” he said as he looked out the window on the ride home. “That’s a sign that things are going to keep on going, if we keep on fighting.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

A two-vehicle crash Monday morning on U.S. Highway 40 claimed the life of a 19-year-old man. Photo ...
Mark Jones

Crash in Uintah County claims the life of a 19-year-old man

UINTAH COUNTY, Utah — A 19-year-old man died Monday morning in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40 in Uintah County. The Utah Highway Patrol says the crash occurred near milepost 137 at 7:11 a.m. The UHP says a 2017 Nissan Rouge was heading westbound. The 19-year-old victim was the driver of the Nissan Rouge. […]
19 hours ago
It's so cold today (Jan. 30) that plumbers are expecting calls anytime from customers needing servi...
Curt Gresseth

When it’s this cold, keep your pipes from freezing. Here’s how.

It's so cold outside today that a plumber has joined the show to share tips on keeping your pipes inside and outside your home from freezing.
19 hours ago
road home...
Allie Litzinger

The road home is in need of donations and volunteers this winter

SALT LAKE CITY — Cooler temperatures leave the homeless and unhoused service providers vulnerable. Road Home community coordination director Karissa Guthrie says they are in need of cold weather clothing and hand warmers most. These providers are always in need of donations no matter the season, however freezing temperatures only worsen the situation. “Lets say […]
19 hours ago
(Utah Highway Patrol)...
Elizabeth Weiler

Head on collision reported, State Route 73 closure

SALT LAKE CITY — Police are reporting a head-on collision resulting in life flight assistance.  Spencer Cannon with Utah County Sheriff’s office said the collision occurred at SR 73 just east of Eagle Mountain Boulevard.  Cannon said the highway will likely be shut down for at least half an hour.  This is an ongoing story […]
19 hours ago
Hundreds gather in support of transgender youth in a rally at the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023...
Lindsay Aerts

LGBTQ advocacy groups to file lawsuit over Utah’s transgender-related surgery law

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the ACLU of Utah will file a lawsuit against the new Utah law banning transgender minors from getting surgeries and limiting hormone treatments. “We’re putting together a challenge as quickly as we can,” said Shannon Minter, the NCLR’s legal director, to KSL NewsRadio’s Lindsay […]
19 hours ago
Homes line the horizon in Daybreak in South Jordan on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. The world's populat...
Allessandra Harris

South Jordan could see new housing development

Amid Utah's housing crisis, developers are taking advantage of over 200,000 acres in South Jordan for a new housing community.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Inside the ER: Doctor in New York details dire supply shortages