RENO, Nevada (CBS) — A Nevada hospital is now in crisis mode as coronavirus cases surge across the country. Health care workers at the Renown Regional Medical Center have resorted to treating patients in the hospital’s parking garage.
“Our frontline caregivers are seeing things that they never would have imagined,” Tony Slonim, the president and CEO of Renown Health, told CBS News.
For Slonim, COVID-19 is personal. “This condition took my father’s life,” he said. “We couldn’t be there for him, but I know as a former ICU doctor that they were there comforting him.”
On the day Slonim’s father died, the field hospital opened. In just the last three weeks, 265 people have been treated there.
“Nobody who has gone into medicine ever thought they would be providing care in a parking garage,” said Jacob Keeperman, an intensive care unit doctor at Renown Health.
Keeperman had just moved to Reno to start working there and manage the field hospital when he tweeted a picture before it opened. In the caption, he said, five people had died in 32 hours and everyone was struggling to keep their head up. Some tweeted it was fake and one of those tweets was retweeted by President Trump.
“Would any hospital want to show that they are operating out of a parking garage if it wasn’t real? People’s loved ones are dying every day,” said Keeperman.
Since March, more than 2,000 people have died from coronavirus in the state, according to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
Janet Baum, the field hospital’s nursing manager, said she has not seen anything like this from the time she’s worked in health care. “Never in my wildest nightmares would I ever have thought that we would ever see something that would be killing this many people,” she said.