Is MSK Doing Anything to Prevent COVID-19 Patients from Being on a Ventilator?

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VIDEO | 02:16

Learn about the ways MSK experts are managing breathing-related issues caused by COVID-19.

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We at Memorial Sloan Kettering are doing many things to help a patient that is admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 inflammation and lung involvement from being admitted to the intensive care unit and requiring a mechanical ventilator — in other words, a machine to help one breathe. So, we're concentrating on five methods of support of the patient. The first is oxygen. So, we are giving oxygen because oxygen levels are sometimes low within the patient, and we need to provide oxygen to help raise the oxygen levels, so the person breathes more comfortably and has oxygen in the body. In order to help the oxygen get into the inflamed lungs, we are also proning the patient. What does that mean? Proning means laying on your stomach as opposed to your back. Proning helps the diaphragm work better and helps the oxygen get into various areas of the lung where, if you're laying on your back, the oxygen does not penetrate.

However, proning may be uncomfortable. So, the Integrative Medicine Department has created a series of beautiful web tools with visual imagery and music that go for hours in order to help the patient, who is proning, be more comfortable and more emotionally and mentally at ease. At the same time, as we are providing oxygen, proning, and music, we are providing all the medications that are relevant to treating COVID-19, both the traditional medications and all the new medications that are now available in the hospital. Finally, the patient is seen by multiple consultation services, including nursing, proning team, the critical care consult from the intensive care unit, the infectious disease consult, and any other consults that are required to help the patient get better while being on the ward, and avoid ever having to come to the intensive care unit and getting more advanced care, such as a mechanical ventilator machine to help one breathe.