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Two ER doctors in critical condition with coronavirus in New Jersey and Washington

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Two emergency room doctors in the U.S. have contracted coronavirus and are in the hospital in critical condition.

One of the doctors, 70-year-old Dr. James Pruden from Paterson, New Jersey, suffers from respiratory problems and is in isolation, the Daily Mail reported. The other is a 40-year-old emergency room doctor in Washington state.

St. Joseph’s Health president and chief executive officer Kevin Slavin said at a news briefing on Friday, “On March 6th, 2020, our own Medical Director of Emergency Preparedness Dr. James Pruden was admitted to our hospital with upper respiratory and cold-like symptoms. He was tested according to the New Jersey Department of Health protocols for coronavirus and at this time is presumptive positive.”

“Dr. Pruden is currently under isolation at the hospital and receiving the best possible care,” he added.

Slavin said Dr. Pruden is seen as “legend” and a “beloved member of medical staff’ in the Paterson community.”

Pruden has a history of helping lead St Joseph’s Health through a swine flu outbreak in 2009 and Ebola response in 2014, the Daily Mail reported, citing local sources.

The physician was a first responder during 9/11, and he led a team of relief healthcare workers after hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, in 2017.

The 40-year-old doctor reportedly had no underlying health concerns. His name has not been released, but he works at Evergreen Health Medical Center in Kirkland.

“Evergreen Health is providing care for one of our physicians who has a confirmed case of COVID-19,” the hospital said Sunday in a release, according to Seattle Times. “He is in critical condition but stable. Out of respect for our patient’s privacy and that of his family, there is nothing more we can share at this time.”

Dr. Liam Yore, who is on staff at Evergreen Health, as well as another nearby hospital, and immediate past president of the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, told the paper the physician was admitted to intensive-care and could be the first front-line health care worker in the state to test positive for the virus.

He describes his colleague as “a dedicated and selfless physician,” and said an initial test on Tuesday came back negative, but symptoms were there and a second test was done Friday.

That test came back positive, and the doctor was admitted.

“I can confirm he did not care for any patients while he was symptomatic,” said Yore.

Yore added that it was impossible to know if the doctor contracted the virus at work or in the community.

As of Sunday, there were 769 confirmed cases in Washington state, with 42 deaths, Q13 Fox reported.

There are 37 deaths in King County, four deaths in Snohomish County and one death in Grant County, with 29 of the deaths linked to a Kirkland nursing home, according to public health officials.

There have been fifteen deaths at Evergreen, most being residents of the nursing home.

Yore told the Times doctors are concerned about the supply chain and the capacity of hospitals to care for new patients as the epidemic worsens.

“At this point in the epidemic, I’d say the emergency rooms of Washington are handling it really well,” he noted. “The concern we have is as the number of cases grows exponentially, there will come a tipping point at which time the capacity of the ERs and ICUs will become saturated.”

Tom Tillison

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