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Coronavirus From The Front Lines: What One Boston ER Doctor Is Seeing

BOSTON (CBS) - Some of the images from emergency departments around the country look like war zones. That is why Dr. Lauren Rice gears up for battle with coffee.

Then, the emergency medicine physician heads in for an eight- to 12-hour shift in the Tufts Medical Center Emergency Department. Her day starts with a thorough hand-washing before she dresses in personal protective equipment or PPE.

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Emergency Department Dr. Lauren Rice at work at Tufts Medical Center (Photo credit: Tufts Medical Center)

"It's a mask, it's a face shield, sometimes a gown. Just sort of depends on what type of a patient it is," Rice said.

Next up, Rice said, the emergency department holds a huddle before tackling the challenges of the novel coronavirus.

"We are seeing more and more of the coronavirus patients or the patients that we're concerned are COVID-19 suspects, so that is starting to pick up a little bit," Rice said.

The patients have similar flu-like symptoms that generally turn into respiratory challenges. And, Rice said, there is some heightened level of concern among her colleagues.

"We definitely are feeling, I think, a little bit of strain or anxiety about the event, just like everyone else in the community," she said.

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The emergency department at Tufts Medical Center. (Photo credit: Tufts Medical Center)

The Tufts Emergency Department is nothing compared to the nightmare stories coming out of New York City, where many hospitals are already overwhelmed, and Rice said she and the other health professionals she works with are prepared.

"The emergency department is oftentimes chaotic, but it's a choreographed chaos, and that is what I am here to do, is to kind of choreograph that."

At the end of the day, she takes an hour to prepare to go home with another hand-washing and a long shower.

"As an emergency physician, this is what we're ready for on a daily basis."

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