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ER Doctors Describe Pandemic's Emotional Toll In Third "Candid Conversation"

Captured via Webex

Elkhart County emergency room doctors described the emotional toll of the pandemic at the third Candid COVID Conversation Wednesday night.

Dr. Michelle Bache, vice president of medical affairs at Elkhart General Hospital, said it’s been two months since her hospital has operated at anything less than 100 percent capacity.

That case load led to a record number of COVID-19 deaths last month.

“I can’t even put into words how horrible November was. March through October at Elkhart Hospital, we had 48 deaths," Bache said. "In the month of November alone, we had 44.”

She said it’s led to a feeling of “helplessness” among emergency room staff, who see most incoming COVID-19 patients.

“It’s really hard when your whole calling in life is to help, and when you’re faced with a situation where you’re spread so thin that you can’t – that is really morally distressing,” Bache said.

In order to cope, Dr. Bruce Hughes, chair of the emergency department at Goshen Hospital, said his team celebrates little victories – like when a patient they thought wouldn’t survive comes off the ventilator.

“It’s cool to see the nurses kind of gather around and the doctors and techs and respiratory therapists and… we kind of hang in there and we kind of count on each other,” he said.

Contact Gemma at or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo

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