Coronavirus pandemic: Mission Viejo doctor explains success with COVID-19 patients

"The first 'clap out' that I saw, I almost started crying on video cause it was so emotional," said Dr. Robert Goldberg.
MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (KABC) -- Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo has been celebrating the recovery of COVID-19 patients with special "clap outs" -- doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists line the hallways as the patients move on to rehab, and eventually home with their loved ones.

"The first clap out that I saw, I almost started crying on video cause it was so emotional. It wasn't even my patient, it was one of my partner's patients," said pulmonary and critical care Dr. Robert Goldberg, who has been treating COVID-19 patients since the hospital admitted its first positive patient more than six weeks ago. Through early aggressive care, he says they've been very successful.

"A couple of my COVID-19 patients have been some of the sickest patients I've had in my career - and they survived," Goldberg said.

One of the two main factors for recovery are common methods like ventilators.

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"The other aspect of care that's been very successful is something called proning. What that is, is we take the patients and actually lay them on their stomach," he said. "By putting the patients on their stomach, you increase the blood flow to the front of the lungs, the healthier part of the lungs."

In the COVID Isolation Unit, at least 30 patients have needed the aggressive care. Of those, five are already home. The hospital has had one death because of COVID-19, but says many more did not get critically ill. Goldberg said efforts to prevent the spread have made a huge difference.

"Our health system was able to give the time and care to these patients to get them through this critical illness because we were not overwhelmed," Goldberg said.

He believes seeing patients reunite with their families really drives that point home.

"Hopefully we won't have a second wave or another wave of COVID-19 when businesses, schools and entities start opening up, but we're ready for it if it does happen," he said.

Goldberg said the hospital was seeing a wide range of patients - people in their 20's to their 80's. Most will stay for three to five days before going home. But the critically ill stay for a number of weeks before being transferred to rehab and eventually go home.
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