Pine Belt doctor spent time caring for ICU patients in NYC during COVID-19’s infancy

Pine Belt doctor spent time caring for ICU patients in NYC during COVID-19’s infancy
Dr. Lawrence Leader sits down with WDAM about his time in NYC (Source: WDAM)

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Dr. Lawrence Leader, M.D. spent two months in New York City caring for some of the sickest patients with the coronavirus.

“So for me, I worked in the ICU which was what I was most comfortable with was acute care and the sicker people,” said Dr. Leader.

Dr. Leader was placed in the Javits Center which was transformed into a mobile health unit.

Sometimes after his 12-hour shift at the convention center, he went to the U.S. Naval Hospital ship.

“So they had an open unit where they took care of extremely sick people, but they didn’t have a cardiologist on that ship. So if I got off and there was care needed for cardiac issues, sometimes I would head over there,” said Dr. Leader.

“A little bit overwhelming to see so many extremely sick people in such a small area and to see New York in dire straights,” said Dr. Leader.

Dr. Leader says when folks not near the front line of the virus can be callous to the emotion of it.

“When you’re in there you don’t think that way at all. You think these are people’s wives, people’s moms, people’s dads, sometimes kids, and everyone was emotionally tough,” said Dr. Leader.

“So there were a lot of times when I would just break down and then recover the next day and go to work,” said Dr. Leader.

Dr. Leader saw firsthand the impact overcrowded hospitals can have.

“When the hospitals are overwhelmed it’s just devastating to the system. So even things that are not COVID related, broken leg, some orthopedic injuries, kidney stones, are not treated. Everything comes to a standstill and people suffer,” said Dr. Leader.

Dr. Leader has a message for those not taking this seriously.

“If people are thinking we can just be irresponsible and this is just going to go away, this is not true,” said Dr. Leader.

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