In freezing rain on Monday, she trudged in clogs between the emergency department she chairs at the Brooklyn Hospital Center and a tent outside, keeping a sharp eye on the trainee doctors, nurses and other staff members who would screen nearly 100 walk-in patients for the coronavirus that day.
Inside her E.R., more than a dozen people showing signs of infection waited for evaluation in an area used just a few weeks ago for stitches and casts. Another dozen lay on gurneys arranged one in front of the next, like a New York City car park. One man on a ventilator was waiting for space in the intensive care unit.
Minutes before paramedics wheeled in a heart attack patient, Dr. de Souza pointed to beds reserved for serious emergencies, separated by a newly constructed wall from the suspected virus cases. “This is our safe area,” she told a reporter. Then she corrected herself: “This is thought to be safe.” There was really no way to know.”