Fresno doctor books one-way flight to New York to help medical workers overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases

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“I have had end-of-life conversations with family members at home and handed a phone to them while the patient is dying,” says Dr. Ajit Rai.

This is the reality frontline physicians like Dr Rai face in the battle against COVID-19.

The Fresno-based anesthesiologist is now in New York City, saying he wasted no time in booking a one-way ticket to help his colleagues.

“They started telling me about the horrors they were experiencing in New York hospitals,” Dr. Rai said. “With the end of elective surgeries, I felt compelled to help my colleagues in New York.”

Dr Rai works at UCSF-Fresno and CRMC, but says he took a break from his practice and received emergency accreditation to start work immediately.

With nearly 200,000 cases in New York State, he says the health care system is overcapacity.

With dozens in the ICU, he says patients often die on their own.

“Due to the contagiousness of this virus, we do not want civilians to enter inside, even if it means seeing a family member on the verge of death,” said Dr Rais.

Dr Rai says all of the patients he helps have COVID-19. His own health is at stake.

“When you put this breathing tube in, you may be exposed to a high load virus,” Dr Rai said. “We try to take the precautions and focus on the greater good, and that helps as many people as possible.”

Dr Rai says he plans to help for as long as he can and calls on anyone who can help on the front lines to volunteer in the hope of preventing the numbers from rising.

“We need to mobilize the workforce and that means doctors and nurses who are willing to relocate to provide care,” said Dr Rai. “This disease is real. If it hits, it can hit hard.”

For more information on the coronavirus and COVID-19, visit ABC30.com/coronavirus

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