JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Arguably our most essential workers right now are our medical personnel.
We are all doing our part to stop the spread of coronavirus, most of us by staying home and away from others. But what is a day like for those on the front lines of this fight? CBS2's Tara Jakeway found out firsthand from two New Jersey doctors.
"It's something that is completely unprecedented. We could never imagine in our wildest dreams that we would live through a plague," Dr. Anuj Shah said.
Shah is a cardiologist who has his own practice, but now he's one of the Garden State's many medical professionals that have stepped up and in to the Intensive Care Unit.
"They are all working extra shifts. No one is taking any time off. They are in the battle zone," Shah said.
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Healthcare workers around the globe are running low on personal protection equipment -- or PPEs -- and it's no different at Christ Hospital in Jersey City.
"You get one mask per provider per day. You take it off, you put it in a brown paper bag, and then you reuse it as much as you have to," Shah said.
N95 masks are so few that they're now only used when a patient is what Shah calls "code blue" or intubated, adding those masks are not the only lifesaving equipment being reused.
"The minute a patient gets off a ventilator another patient is ready, but there is not enough time to get it cleaned and functional again," Shah said.
Doctors and nurses have been forced to get creative to stay safe, like using extra-long IVs.
"They are extending the tube size and they are maintaining the pump outside, so they don't have to keep going in and out," Shah said.
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Hospitals are keeping each patient's medical team small to limit exposure, but in some cases the virus is not contained.
"We all know by this time a colleague that has died or is on the verge of dying," Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tucker Woods said. "We think we're probably at mile two or three of a 26-mile marathon."
Woods said they have whole floors for coronavirus patients in isolation. The hospital is so full they've added a temporary wing to help with processing.
"This tent was designed to help protect the front line, the staff and also the patients," Woods said.
A sign was put up to deter hundreds of Jersey City residents from coming here to get tested. Christ Hospital is a working hospital and ambulances need access to the emergency room.
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