Tag Archives: Bridgeport Hospital

COVID, Flu, RSV: Looking Ahead To Winter

Right now, Bridgeport Hospital is caring for 30 COVID patients.

That’s down drastically from the height of the pandemic, when they filled 300 beds.

Most of us no longer wear masks. We’ve stopped social distancing; we gather once again in large groups, and greet relatives and friends with hugs and kisses.

But we would be foolish to let our guards down too much and too fast, says Zane Saul.

He should know. The 32-year resident of Westport and Weston is Bridgeport Hospital’s chief of infectious diseases.

Dr. Zane Saul

He was on the front lines, when the coronavirus roared across the globe. He remembers those early days of terror, confusion, and the all-hands-on-deck, throw-whatever-we’ve-got-at-it approach that was all he and his colleagues could do for nearly a year, until vaccines were developed, produced and shipped.

Now, he says, most people in this area have been vaccinated. That, along with monoclonal antibodies, means that although people still contract COVID, they’re not as sick as before.

They’re not intubated as often. They’re not dying as much.

Dr. Saul says a very obese, unvaccinated woman was admitted this fall to Bridgeport Hospital. She spent several weeks on a respirator.

But she made it. Two years ago, she would not have.

Now, the weather is turning cold. People spend more time indoors. We’re excited for the first big holiday gatherings in 3 years.

The number of COVID cases will rise again, Dr. Saul says.

It’s not back. It never left.

So will diagnoses of flu and respiratory syncytial virus — RSV, which is especially dangerous to infants and young children. Bridgeport Hospital’s pediatric wing is already full of young RSV patients, Dr. Saul says.

The reason for the triple rise is simple. After 2 years of masks — which limited the spread of not only COVID, but other diseases — we are once again breathing on and close to each other.

What can we do?

“Get a flu shot!” Dr. Saul urges. “It’s effective. The match to this year’s strain is very good.

“If you’re sick, stay home. COVID quarantine is only 5 days now. Basic handwashing is important too.”

Dr. Zane Saul says …

And of course: Get your vaccines and booster shots.

Dr. Saul knows that “COVID fatigue” is real. He understands that people are tired of hearing they should get yet another booster vaccine.

But they should.

“I can’t blame them for how they feel,” Dr. Saul says. “Still, COVID isn’t gone. The latest variant lasts longer. It’s not a walk in the park.

“But with vaccines and boosters, you won’t get as sick. You won’t get hospitalized. You won’t die.”

Dr. Saul began training in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. For years, patients died. Then in 1995, “cocktail” medications became available. HIV is now a manageable disease.

He thought AIDS was the worst he’d ever see. Three decades later, he faced the “exhausting and terrifying” COVID pandemic.

Though everyone is eager to get back to their pre-2020 lives, the threat remains.

So, Dr. Saul says: Be smart. Take advice seriously.

And “listen to science. Science is good. It’s gotten us to where we are now.”

Which — even in Bridgeport Hospital — is a pretty good place.

(“06880” wants to keep you healthy. To keep this blog healthy, please donate by clicking here.)

Bridgeport Hospital

August Laska Learns His (EMT) Lessons

August Laska has acted in every Staples Players show since freshman year. “Into the Woods,” “Rent,” studio productions — he’s done them all.

August Laska

This summer, the rising senior did something completely different. He spent every weekday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Bridgeport Hospital. August — and 7 other Staples students — are taking the long, tough, but very rewarding Emergency Medical Technician training course.

His mother, Jennifer Balin, earned her certification 5 years ago in Westport. Last fall, August vowed to do the same.

It’s made for quite a summer. Every night from late June on, he reads a thick textbook. The next day there are lectures, and plenty of tests. The course ends later this month, with a 6-hour practical exam, and a 200-question written one.

August calls the course “the most interesting and rewarding thing I’ve ever done.” It’s solidified his desire for a career in medicine. It’s taught him plenty — and opened his eyes quite wide.

Part of the training involved a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift in the Bridgeport Hospital emergency room. He had class 2 hours later — but his adrenaline was pumping all night.

He saw horrific trauma — and people at their most vulnerable. He saw patients who use the ER because they have no primary care physicians. He realized the importance of emergency rooms in medicine, and can see himself working there one day.

Yesterday was something new, and special: He was invited into the operating room, to watch surgery.

As the class progresses, August says, he realizes “how little EMTs can really do” — beyond initial assessment and treatment — but also “how much they have to know.” Friends may not understand why he stays home at night studying, or how much he looks forward to waking up at 8 a.m. to go to school, but some things just can’t be explained.

He’s learning skills he can use anywhere, any time. He’s learning about expectations versus reality (“medicine is nowhere near as clean as it seems from the outside,” he notes). And he’s learning how to help and serve others.

Of all the roles August Laska has played on stage, this one off it may turn out to be his biggest.

Judge Not…

The other night, an alert “06880” reader writes, his son played in a Little League game.

A wild pitch brushed him back. Then he was hit hard on his left side, under the arm.

He went down in severe pain, and could hardly breathe. The reader’s wife — a medical professional, normally dismissive of her kid’s injuries — was very concerned, because the injury was so close to internal organs.

She took him to the Stillson Road walk-in clinic in Fairfield, because they take X-rays. The clinic immediately sent the boy — by EMS, with Fairfield Fire Department escort — to Bridgeport Hospital‘s pediatric emergency room. Fortunately, he checked out fine.

Both the walk-in clinic and hospital experiences, the reader says, were “phenomenal.”

But that’s not why he emailed me.

The pitcher was the opposing coach’s son. When the injured boy’s father got home, he had plenty of voicemails. His son’s coach, teammates — even parents on the other team, and random others — were calling to see how the boy was, and if the family needed anything.

But one person had not called: the opponents’ coach.

However, the father adds: “I was too quick to judge.”

Youth sports teach many life lessons.

The next day, he sent an email. He wrote of his own concern for the young player’s well-being, and said how sorry and distraught his own son felt for hitting the boy with a pitch.

“We, of course, had focused only on our own kid, and how we felt,” the “06880” reader writes.

“We never thought how the other child and coach/father might be feeling.”

That, he continues, is why “youth sports are so great. They’re about life lessons, and perspectives, and redemption, and making quick judgments.”

And about life lessons — for kids and parents.

Play ball!