Pulmonologist Qanta Ahmed on working in NY hospital amid COVID-19 pandemic: 'It’s extremely tough'

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Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a pulmonologist who is treating COVID-19 patients at a New York hospital, said on "America's Newsroom" on Wednesday that the outbreak has been “extremely tough” for doctors and the families of patients.

Ahmed, who is also a Council on Foreign Relations member, said she is treating patients in Nassau County, which is on western Long Island. She said she is working at New York University-Winthrop, which is part of the NYU Langone health system.

Ahmed said she left the field of critical care medicine 10 years ago and came back to help with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are seeing a tremendous demand for critical care beds,” Ahmed explained.

“We have an overwhelming number of critical care patients, which we’ve been able to accommodate,” she continued. “Our normal volume of critically ill patients has more than tripled and is still rising so we are entering the beginning of the peak we believe."

She added that "we’ve been very well provided for with additional equipment.”

“We received many mechanical ventilators. I think part of that is the NYU Langone supply chain, part of that is the governor of New York who has been incredible and the collaboration with the president,” she said, adding that “every patient that is critically ill gets the right level of care, has the right devices and the right amount of supervision.”

Ahmed acknowledged that “the patients are very sick.”

“This is a very severe lung injury,” she said. “It is affecting people of all age groups.”


She added, “We’ve seen it all, but we know what to do, we have the techniques, we have the skills, we have the expertise, we just hope that we can sustain the manpower and the physical space to accommodate them, which we’ve done very well with.”

New York is the epicenter for coronavirus cases in the United States, with 140,386 cases and 5,489 deaths, according to data compiled by Fox News. As of Wednesday, Nassau County is reporting 16,610 cases and 620 deaths, according to New York’s Department of Health.

Neighboring New York City reported 76,876 cases and more than 4,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Fox News. On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the number of coronavirus deaths in New York has increased by 731 overnight in what has been the largest daily leap yet.

The uptick comes after Cuomo said the figure had been “effectively flat” in the two days prior, with 599 and 594 deaths on Monday and Sunday, respectively.

The governor said that in a bit of “good news," the three-day average of new hospitalizations is down. Admissions into ICU facilities have dropped again as well, while the hospital discharge rate continues to rise.

“I do not see the other patients that are elsewhere in the hospital, but I do know they are getting treated and they’re getting better so that's tremendous,” Ahmed said on Wednesday.

She added, “I think the major thing is not just what our administration and our institutions and our leaders, national, state and the administration are doing, but also the incredible faith that the family members are putting in us and their doctors and the health care system is also empowering us.”

She added that "it's not something I’ve seen to this degree ever before in almost 30 years of medicine.”

Ahmed wrote a Fox News op-ed titled, “Coronavirus– A tribute to patients and their families from an ICU in New York.”

“Families who would never know my face, never know me in person, families I could never meet and console with a hand on their shoulder, families with whom I could never shed a tear in person, offered me the greatest encouragement,” she wrote in the piece.

Speaking on “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday she echoed that sentiment.

“It's very tough on the patients to be ill with us without any loved ones and it's very tough on the families that never are really able to see them after they come to hospitals and that's heartbreaking and it's really also difficult for us as physicians,” she explained.

Ahmed added that “it’s extremely tough and the patients and the families are being enormously brave and very supportive of the physicians, the medical team and the hospitals.”

She noted that she has not lost one of her patients to COVID-19 and said the doctors at the hospital have been trying to speak with the families of the patients several times a day to keep them informed.


Ahmed said that while “it’s a new phenomenon” for doctors, the “real burden is on the families of people who are not well and who are admitted to hospitals.”

Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.