When the coronavirus rips through a community, I.C.U.s fill up. Hospitals have been forced to improvise, expanding capacity by creating new I.C.U.s in areas normally used for other purposes, like cardiac or neurological care, and even hallways or spare rooms.
These big surges happened in New York City last spring, in the South over the summer and in southern California and many other areas of the country, some for the second time, this winter.
Elective surgeries often get put on hold to keep beds available, and early in the pandemic, hospitals saw huge drops in people admitted for any reason other than Covid-19. I.C.U staff members, regardless of specialty, often spent most or all of their time on Covid patients.
“We’re all exhausted,” said Dr. Nida Qadir, co-director of the medical intensive care unit at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. “We’ve had to flex up quite a bit.”