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A New York Doctor’s Warning

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Dr. Fred Milgim: A NY Doctor's WarningIn the emergency-department waiting room, 150 people worry about a fever. Some just want a test, others badly need medical treatment. Those not at the brink of death have to wait six, eight, 10 hours before they can see a doctor. Those admitted to the hospital might wait a full day for a bed.

I am an emergency-medicine doctor who practices in both Manhattan and Queens; at the moment, I’m in Queens. Normally, I love coming to work here, even though in the best of times, my co-residents and I take care of one of New York City’s most vulnerable, underinsured patient populations. Many have underlying illnesses and a language barrier, and lack primary care.

These are not the best of times; even for my senior attendings, it is the worst they have ever seen. Here, the curve is not flat. We are overwhelmed. There was a time for testing in New York, and we missed it. China warned Italy. Italy warned us. We didn’t listen. Now the onus is on the rest of America to listen to New York. For many people around the country, the virus is still an invisible threat. But inside New York’s ERs, it is frighteningly visible.

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