A Look Inside Mount Sinai Hospital At The Front Lines Of The Ongoing COVID-19 Fight

Nearly a year after New York City became the epicenter of the nation's coronavirus crisis, we're getting a look at the ongoing fight to save lives. Mount Sinai is now allowing cameras inside its ER and ICU for the first time; Mola Lenghi reports for CBS2.

Video Transcript

MAURICE DUBOIS: Nearly a year after New York City became the epicenter of the nation's coronavirus crisis, we are getting a look at the ongoing fight to save lives.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: Mount Sinai is now allowing cameras inside its ER and ICU for the first time. CBS 2's Mola Lenghi shows us the progress and continuing peril of a year on the COVID front lines.

- I think he's about to crash.

- Yeah.

- Because of sepsis?

- Yes, sepsis and the respiratory status.

MOLA LENGHI: Dr. Umesh Gidwani is fighting to save a critical COVID patient who has been at Mount Sinai Hospital for over 60 days.

UMESH GIDWANI: It's a desperate, last-ditch attempt. It's a shame. He's so young. It's terrible.

MOLA LENGHI: The somber responsibility to update the family in a video chat.

UMESH GIDWANI: It caused a lot of heartache, not only to the families, but also to us who are taking care of the patient. There's still quite a substantial burden of illness and severity of multi-organ failure.

MOLA LENGHI: In April, Gidwani recorded video diaries to share what battling COVID-19 from the front lines both looks and feels like.

UMESH GIDWANI: What could we have done Better What could we have done different, could we have saved another life?

MATTHEW BAI: The things that I see in the ER are scary. I'm a little scared myself.

MOLA LENGHI: Joining in the fight to save another life, Dr. Matthew Bai, a physician in the emergency department in Mt Sinai, Queens. He also shared the emotional toll.

MATTHEW BAI: This morning when I left the house, I said goodbye to my wife and my daughter for who knows how long.

MOLA LENGHI: Bai captured the difficult decision to isolate from his family at the peak of New York's outbreak. Do you remember where you were mentally, emotionally as you were recording those things?

MATTHEW BAI: It's fuzzy. I was stressed. There was times of sadness. I felt lonely. There's patients everywhere. We're trying our best to treat everyone that we can.

MOLA LENGHI: We followed Bai on one of his shifts to see the impact fighting COVID-19 had, one year later.

MATTHEW BAI: Even though the numbers are down, it's still high enough to keep all of our hospitals pretty much at, like, 95% plus capacity. If I walk into a certain room, or if something really devastating happened during the peak, I still get like a little flash of like chills. And I can feel my heart rate going up a little bit.

MOLA LENGHI: I would imagine it's almost like a trauma.

MATTHEW BAI: Yeah, that's a good way to describe it.

MOLA LENGHI: A survey conducted by mental Health America found increasing numbers of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other mental health concerns among health care workers faced with combating the virus. But in a year of devastating lows, there were also highs.

MATTHEW BAI: My wife just sent me this picture from the park.

MOLA LENGHI: After six weeks separated from his family, the Bais reunited. In August, Bai's wife gave birth to another girl.

MATTHEW BAI: In the middle of a tough day, if my wife sends me a picture like that, I'll look at it just makes everything so much better.

MOLA LENGHI: Things are looking worse back on Dr. Gidwani's floor. A desperate attempt underway to save this young patient's life.

UMESH GIDWANI: One of the worst parts of this pandemic is how people have to die, separated from their loved ones. Never alone, never alone. Our nurses, our doctors are always there, always at the bedside.

MOLA LENGHI: A year by the bedside, bearing trauma hidden beneath layers of PPE. Mola Lenghi, New York.

MAURICE DUBOIS: Wow. Can't say thank you enough to heroes like that. Wow.