ER nurse is confident her hospital can care for patients with COVID-19, other illnesses

COVID-19 tests are now available for health care professionals, grocery store workers, first responders, and critical government personnel — even if they’re asymptomatic. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti made that announcement this week.

“I wish everybody could get tested. … We need to know who’s positive, isolate them, and then really do contact tracing. Who did you come in contact with over the last X amount of days? And then have those people quarantined,” says nurse Marcia Santini. “If not, we’re just going to keep doing this, and it’s going to drag on and on and on until we get a vaccine.”

Santini herself tested negative. She works in the emergency room at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Her hospital isn’t seeing an influx of COVID-19 patients as expected, she says. 

“We’re not overwhelmed by any means. What we’re worried about is … people that are coming in … are really sick with other medical problems. … They wait so long until they’re at a point where they have to come in. And we don’t want that. We want people to know that we will protect them. We have great infection control policies in place right now in the ER,” Santini says. 

What kinds of medical conditions are people coming in with? She lists: heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, advanced kidney disease.

She says UCLA Medical Center can definitely handle these various patients — as long as staff can stay healthy.

“We are in good shape at UCLA for the most part. … We have to keep our staff protected. Twenty percent (in our country) of health care workers have contracted it and several have died. This is a tragedy, and it should never have happened. If we’re not protected fully, then you’re going to lose us, and the profession is going to take a big hit, and then we can’t take care of patients,” Santini says. 

Marcia Santini’s earlier interview on Press Play (March 24, 2020) 

— Written by Amy Ta, produced by Angie Perrin