Doctors

They Evoke Darth Vader, but These Masks May Save Your Doctor’s Life

Even among the surreal sights of an intensive care unit crowded with Covid-19 patients, Dr. Elaine Fajardo’s mask stands out.

Jet-black silicone with magenta-capped filters protruding from both sides, it is more commonly the protection of choice at construction sites and industrial plants. But for Dr. Fajardo, it has been a precious and potentially lifesaving medical resource.

“I think these really saved us from a crisis,” said Dr. Fajardo, a pulmonary and critical care physician at the Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut.

In the past, Dr. Fajardo, like most health care workers, relied on disposable N95 masks, which are in critically short supply globally because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now she is the beneficiary of a prescient decision: As the virus raged in China, Yale hospital administrators bought about 1,200 of the reusable silicone masks, known as elastomeric respirators, and gave them to doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists starting

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Haphazard Rollout of Coronavirus Drug Frustrates Doctors

When the Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency approval last week for an antiviral drug, remdesivir, to treat hospitalized coronavirus patients, many doctors were overjoyed. The drug is the first shown to be even mildly effective against the virus.

But bafflement soon followed as doctors and hospitals tried to obtain the drug. Small community hospitals with few beds received remdesivir, while medical centers besieged with cases were denied.

Only four hospitals in Massachusetts, for example, are known to have received remdesivir: three small community hospitals and Massachusetts General, a Harvard University teaching hospital.

Officials at Mass General said they had not even asked for the drug. Yet other major hospitals were left out, including Boston Medical Center, which has many vulnerable African-American patients.

“This is crazy,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Mass General. The hospital is giving its small supply of remdesivir — 26 cases

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Vaccine Rates Drop Dangerously as Parents Avoid Doctor’s Visits

As parents around the country cancel well-child checkups to avoid coronavirus exposure, public health experts fear they are inadvertently sowing the seeds of another health crisis. Immunizations are dropping at a dangerous rate, putting millions of children at risk for measles, whooping cough and other life-threatening illnesses.

“The last thing we want as the collateral damage of Covid-19 are outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, which we will almost certainly see if there continues to be a drop in vaccine uptake,” said Dr. Sean T. O’Leary, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases.

PCC, a pediatric electronic health records company, gathered vaccine information from 1,000 independent pediatricians nationwide. Using the week of February 16 as a pre-coronavirus baseline, PCC found that during the week of April 5, the administration of measles, mumps and rubella shots dropped by 50 percent; diphtheria and whooping cough shots by 42

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Coronavirus Live Updates: Rising Shortage of Dialysis Units Alarms Doctors

Providing dialysis to Covid-19 patients is the latest unforeseen challenge taxing hospitals.

Doctors are scrambling to handle an unanticipated crisis as a surge in Covid-19 patients with kidney failure has led to shortages of machines, supplies and staff required for emergency dialysis.

Evidence is mounting that in addition to respiratory complications, the coronavirus is also shutting down some patients’ kidneys, posing yet another series of life-and-death calculations for doctors, who were already dealing with a shortage of ventilators.

It is not yet known whether the kidneys are a major target of the virus, or whether they’re just one of many organs that can fail as the virus overwhelms the body.

Kidney specialists now estimate that 20 percent to 40 percent of patients in intensive care suffered kidney failure and needed emergency dialysis. Outside of New York, the growing demand for kidney treatments is becoming a major burden on hospitals in

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