DENVER — As emergency rooms and hospitals all over Colorado get ready for an expected influx of patients, 9Wants to Know asked a series of questions of one of the doctors on the front lines.

Dr. Ricky Dhaliwal is a board member of the Colorado chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

What is life like for an ER doctor right now?

“It changes daily. I think every single day we come to work there’s something new as far as [COVID-19] testing goes and what supplies are high or low.”

Are you getting some patients now that you believe have COVID?

“We definitely have a lot of patients that we believe have COVID. The problem is the turnaround time on the tests is very long. We may not know for five or six days if they actually have it.”

What are the equipment supplies like?

“We’re definitely seeing the one-mask-per-day push. That’s definitely happening. As far as face guards and gowns, all of those things, we’re definitely rationing. It’s definitely suboptimal. In a perfect world, we’d all be wearing N-95 [masks] all the time to protect ourselves.”

When would you expect things to ramp up?

“Here in Colorado, I think, we’re definitely going to see this get much worse in the next one to two weeks. I think we’re going to have a large number of patients sick with COVID, but this is going to keep going until at least June.”

What are the symptoms you look for?

“Patients are coming in with fevers and shortness of breath and cough. The biggest issue we have is respiratory failure. You look and see what their oxygen level is and how they actually appear. How they’re feeling.”

How concerned are nurses and doctors?

“There is a high level of concern, and because of that everyone is taking precautions. If nurses and physicians go down in this critical time, we’re going to have an even bigger problem than just [a shortage of] ventilators.”

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