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If Not Us, Who? And If Not Now, When?Perspective From a COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit Run by Otolaryngology Residents

Educational Objective
To understand a frontline perspective from a COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit run by Otolaryngology residents
1 Credit CME

Elmhurst Hospital Center (EHC) sits tightly wedged between the cramped apartments of Jackson Heights and the bustle of Flushing Meadows, in central Queens, New York City (NYC). The hospital provides primary, emergency, and inpatient care for one of the poorest and most diverse districts in the nation. Like the city that surrounds it, EHC is a true melting pot, with physicians, nurses, and other essential workers from around the world. Owing to the economic and cultural roots of the patient population, EHC acts as the truest version of a safety net for some of NYC’s most disenfranchised patients.1 Unfortunately, its diversity and open arms caused it to be a prime target for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). At the height of the pandemic in NYC, 95% of EHC inpatients tested positive, and our hospital was operating at 500% surge intensive care unit (ICU) capacity. Eventually, EHC aptly began to be referred to as “the epicenter of the epicenter.”2

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Arvind K. Badhey, MD, Department of Otolaryngology, Icahn School of Medicine, Annenberg 10-40, Department of Otolaryngology, 1468 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10029 (akbadhey@gmail.com).

Published Online: October 1, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.3232

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Acknowledgements: We would like to acknowledge Luc Morris, MD, for inspiring us to journal our thoughts as we first started the unit. Dr Badhey thanks his wife, Marika Osterbur Badhey, for showing him what it means to be truly brave and not give into fear; and his loving grandmother, Seetha Kethey, who sadly passed away in the midst of this pandemic. Dr Laitman thanks his wife, Megan, and his daughter, Lucy; everything he does is for them.

References
1.
US Census Bureau. American Community Survey 1-year estimates. Retrieved from Census Reporter Profile page for Congressional District 14 (2018). Accessed July 25, 2020. https://censusreporter.org/profiles/50000US3614-congressional-district-14-ny/
2.
Correal  A , Jacobs  A . A Tragedy Is Unfolding: Inside New York's Virus Epicenter. New York Times. April 9, 2020.
3.
New York City Coronavirus Map and Case Count: The Coronavirus Outbreak. New York Times. May 23, 2020.
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