WXXI AM News

Rochester ICU treats COVID-19 patients as young as mid-20s and 30s

Mar 31, 2020

Credit freeimages.com/Russell Weller

People over 70 and those with underlying medical conditions are said to be the most vulnerable to COVID-19. But a local hospital has learned that no one is impervious.

"In our ICU currently we have patients in mid-20s, mid-30s, mid-40s, and some in mid-60s and 70s, so it is affecting all age groups," said Dr. Damanpaul Sondhi, a pulmonologist for Rochester Regional Health.

Sondhi admits he is surprised by the age range of the patients who are receiving critical care at Rochester General Hospital. The ICU patient who is in their mid-30s has an underlying health condition, according to Sondhi, but the patient in their mid-20s does not.

Another development Sondhi was not expecting when treating coronavirus patients is the fact that some have only minor symptoms, maybe a slight cough or a low-grade fever, but are already quite ill.

"We are seeing patients whose oxygen levels are very, very low, but they have no symptoms. And when this disease progresses, it progresses very, very quickly," he said.

Sondhi said he and his colleagues have sufficient personal protective equipment, but supplies are running low.

What worries him the most as coronavirus continues to spread throughout the community, is that health care workers on the front lines of the battle will become infected.

"That's going to put a lot of strain on staff resources, and on society," he said.

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Dr. Sondhi. Among other things, he talks about whether he feels the hospital system is prepared for a potential surge of patients in the next few weeks.