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NYC nurse compares COVID-19 crisis to ‘bubonic plague on steroids’

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Posted at 1:58 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-29 09:11:36-04

MANHATTAN — A nurse in the middle of emergency efforts to increase beds at Mount Sinai’s flagship hospital likened the worsening COVID19 crisis to the “bubonic plague on steroids” and said, “This is wiping people out.”

“My heart is just wrenching for the nurses who are scared and don’t want to bring this home to their children,” Robin Krinsky, a veteran RN, said.

“We’re converting the lobby to patient space, so we can convert units for COVID patients,” Krinsky told PIX11 Friday.

In other words, the lobby will be used for more routine hospitalizations, while some of the other floors are being utilized for critically ill coronavirus patients who need isolation rooms—and ventilators to keep breathing.

“We have over 250 COVID-positive patients,” Krinsky said, “Eight COVID Intensive Care Units.”

Not all of the COVID-positive patients need ICU care, Krinsky emphasized.

The nurse said of the highly infectious virus,“It is bad. In my life, I never expected something like this.”

When asked about the death of nurse Kious Kelly at the Mount Sinai West facility at Columbus Circle, Krinsky responded, “It’s been devastating. Not that we don’t see people die — we work in hospitals. But when it hits somebody who’s like you, it gets personalized. It hits home.“

Kelly’s coworkers said the 49-year-old assistant nursing manager didn’t have the proper “personal protective equipment,” or PPE, causing him and several colleagues to use trash bags for protection at their site.

A widely-circulated photo showed three nurses wearing trash bags.

“The emotional toll that it has taken on the nurses working on these units is overwhelming,” Krinsky said.

”We need to do something for these nurses. We have hotlines for these nurses.”

Krinsky is a board member of the New York State Nurses Association.

She said with the severity of the COVID-19 emergency, she has seen “really strong nurses, resilient nurses, being brought to tears at the end of their shift.”