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Tufts ER Doctor: COVID-19 Volume Not 'Overwhelming Yet'

BOSTON (CBS) - Dr. Lauren Rice says she does not feel like the COVID-19 crisis has overwhelmed her emergency department yet.

"The volume hasn't really become overwhelming yet but what has become pretty impressive is the acuity of these patients meaning, how sick they are or how sick they can become," Rice said.

WBZ-TV spoke with Rice three weeks ago when the Tufts Emergency Medicine Physician said she had only treated mild cases of COVID-19. Now, Rice says almost every patient has it and many can become surprisingly ill.

Dr. Lauren Rice
Dr. Lauren Rice of Tufts Medical Center (WBZ-TV)

"I have been surprised on more than one occasion with somebody who comes in who I may even think that they look great to begin with and then throughout their emergency department course you just see them trying to work harder to breath," she said.

Rice and her colleagues have been working hard, not only to combat the virus, but also to support their patients, who are not allowed outside visitors.

"We're going into their rooms with gowns on, with goggles on, with masks on and it can be really hard to make sure that you're expressing how much you care about your patients when you're completely covered," she said.

"That's one of the things that's been hard to just make sure that you're taking that extra step of holding somebody's hand if you need to, staying in the room a little bit longer and those are all kinds of things that we've been hesitant to do but that's so important to do."

Rice says healthcare workers have been trading fitness and other lifestyle tips as an outlet. She also says that there are some bright spots to her work.

"That moment that you hear somebody is coming off a ventilator, somebody is being discharged, we all celebrate those," she said.

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