Medical experts prepare for fall surge of COVID

Posted at 11:19 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 23:19:44-05

A COVID-19 survivor is speaking out about the state's new strategy to care for patients and save lives.

Kabria Newkirk was critically ill after she was diagnosed with COVID-19, but she recovered after two weeks and she says that’s thanks to hospital staff who took great care of her. Now that they know more about this virus, she’s hoping it will give people a better chance to survive.

Newkirk was in the hospital for two weeks in April. There, she was put on a ventilator and also placed in a medically induced coma.

Months later, she says she’s still having problems.

“I have to actively keep excessing my lungs I have to do a lot of breathing exercises. On a regular basis to keep my lungs strong because it really did take a toll one me health wise,” she said.

Newkirk describes a second wave as terrifying. She’s hoping hospitals are better prepared, and no one goes through what she did.

“It really did take a toll on me health wise,” she said.

Medical experts fear the Fall surge may be worse than the Spring.

Over the past two weeks, case numbers here in Maryland broke records. Hospitalizations are also at levels not seen since June.

To slow the troubling spike, the governor announced restrictions that included suspending visits to hospitals and nursing homes. The health department is also issuing a surge order to allow hospitals near or at capacity to transfer patients to other hospitals.

The goal is to help facilities that may be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

One of the state’s top doctors, Dr. Thomas Scalea called the plan wise and timely.

“It’s about getting the right patient, to the right place, in the right amount of time to receive the correct level of medical care,” he said.

Dr. Scalea also pointed to lessons learned from early on in the pandemic. He says hospitals are more prepared and now have many tools in their tool box to better treat patients.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I don’t remember learning this much about a single disease in such a short period of time,” Scalea said. "Now that they have this transfer order more people should be seen and I feel like there should be more survivors.”

Another note about the transfer order.

Dr. Scalea says hospitals would normally have to look for beds in their own medical system, now he says with a phone call they could find a bed anywhere in the state. They're hoping this could put hospitals in a better position to deal with a surge of patients.