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Japan hospital offers last chance for severely ill COVID-19 patients filling up ICU

A huge display to monitor the conditions of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms is seen at St. Marianna University School of Medicine's Emergency Center in the city of Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, on April 30, 2020. (Photo partially modified)(Mainichi/Junichi Sasaki)

KAWASAKI -- A hospital in this city south of Tokyo has set up large screens to monitor patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms in a bid to reduce the chance of contact between the patients and medical workers, as it faces strained intensive care unit (ICU) capacity.

A large display in the nurses' station at St. Marianna University School of Medicine's Emergency Center in the Kanagawa Prefecture city of Kawasaki shows 10 COVID-19 patients in the ICU who lay limp on their beds. The hospital is designated as a critical care medical center that accepts patients who are seriously ill. For coronavirus patients with severe symptoms, the center is their last stronghold.

All 10 patients at the ICU are using a heart-lung machine called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Nurses in protective gear attend to their care in a vigorous manner.

A partition was set up between the ICU and the nurses' station to prevent the transmission of the virus. To keep the number of staff inside the ICU to a minimum, a camera was set up near each patient, so that workers can monitor their condition from the large display. Medical institutions handling COVID-19 patients have to reduce contact between patients and medical staff, as well as between workers.

The Emergency Center says it can only treat 15 severely ill patients at the most. The center's deputy head Kenichiro Morisawa told the Mainichi Shimbun, "If the numbers of patients surpass the current state, we won't be able to save those who can be saved."

(Japanese original by Mirai Nagira, Science & Environment News Department)

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