At Maimonides Medical Center, mourning the loss of a teammate and noting small wins

Written by on April 16, 2020

File photo. IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock(BROOKLYN, NY) — The morning call was a mix of emotions for those attending at Maimonides Medical Center.

On Tuesday, Michael Antoniades, the executive vice president and chief operating officer, sat at the head of the long table, donning dark-framed glasses, a white shirt and a mask — pulled down so he could be heard — as he addressed staff present and on the phone in Brooklyn, New York.

Maimonides Medical Center invited ABC News to attend and listen in on the update call.

Among the issues discussed during the meeting was a shortage of disposable thermometers for COVID-19 tests.

“We found about 250, which we’re getting in. There’s another thousand that’s supposed to come in today — it’s very tight. … That is a tight item,” said Thomas Smith, chief nursing officer and senior vice president. “We’re working on it.”

It was also revealed during the call that the hospital was running out of the nasal swabs used in testing for COVID-19.

“It’s about two days, depending on our use. … It’s about 350, 400 swabs right now,” said Declan Doyle, senior vice president of operations and clinical programs.

Doyle said the hospital was looking to use oral swabs in the meantime as it sought help to get more nasal swabs.

The hospital also said that it had 173 ventilators in use as of Tuesday morning and 75 ventilators on standby.

The hospital said it was proud to be adding beds everywhere possible and retraining hundreds of employees to care for the influx of patients.

Maimonides had just opened up 10 beds in its cardiac department and it had also retrofitted the cancer center for proven non-coronavirus patients — nearly tripling the hospital’s capacity since the outbreak began.

“I know it’s a lot of teamwork,” Antoniades told Denise Pelle, senior vice president of ambulatory care, thanking her and her team.

“I just want to acknowledge how great it’s been the last couple of weeks to really [staff] these very, very important centers, to not only redeploy … 450 people … but also to set up the family communication center. Just making great progress. I think it’s time for a virtual clap,” he said.

While they did not release numbers on the deceased, hospital workers said they are currently caring for roughly 600 patients with the virus.

During the meeting, the hospital staff said there were eight additional intubations on Monday on top of the 20 already intubated as well as six on the intensive care unit list and seven due to be reevaluated.

But the toll on the hospital had also been a personal one, which was shared during a solemn moment toward the end of the meeting.

On Tuesday morning, Antoniades told the staff that the hospital had lost another teammate.

“I would like to ask everyone to just to take a moment of silence and just reflect upon all the work that we’re doing,” he said. “Thank you everyone. God bless.”

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