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Methodist Hospital COVID unit reflects on pandemic after two years

The floor could see zero COVID-19 patients for the first time in two years.

INDIANAPOLIS — Floor B7 at IU Health Methodist Hospital is busy, but staff there say it’s nothing compared to two years ago.  

“I’m thankful now for where we are, but there were very rocky times,” said Dr. Warren Gavin, a hospitalist. “When you think back to the beginning, that’s when things were awful. There was so much fear and so much uncertainty in the beginning.” 

As soon as the virus hit, hospitals like Methodist began dedicating floors for COVID-19 patients. Gavin’s unit became one of them. 

He said, at the time, there was a lot of worry because little was known about the virus.  

“You had no idea how to test. You had no protection in the form of a vaccination, and you had no solid treatments that you could believe in yet,” he said.  

Credit: WTHR/Lauren Kostiuk
Floor B7 at IU Health Methodist Hospital

Gavin said he can remember all 24 beds in the unit being occupied by COVID patients at one point and PPE yellow carts lined up in the hallways. 

RELATED: COVID cases dropping at IU Health, but hospitals remain busy

Also, with Floor B7 being a medical-surgical unit, staff would usually transfer a severely sick patient to the PCU or ICU, but during peak times, those floors were full, too.   

“There were days when you would look and there would be a patient decompensating in each hallway, and they would be on therapies that would normally necessitate a higher level of care, but there wasn’t room. So you had to do the best you could at a lower level of care,” Gavin said. “It was a really helpless and awful feeling.” 

But on Thursday, two years later, he said things feel a lot more hopeful. For the first time, the floor is not treating any COVID patients.

“It feels really good. You forget how good it feels to treat pancreatitis and all these things other than COVID. I’ve missed that,” Gavin said.  

RELATED: Indianapolis mom out of hospital after 'remarkable' recovery from COVID-19

It’s a feeling that can be felt throughout the whole floor, as health care workers finally feel a sense of relief.  

“Things feel a lot better. You can hear people laughing and talking, but before, it wasn’t that way, especially in the midst of spikes,” he said.  

Through the ups and downs, Gavin said it’s his coworkers, family and supportive Hoosiers who have kept him going.    

“To see the unwavering support and to be called things like heroes, I still can’t wrap my mind around it, but it really meant a lot,” he said. “Also, the camaraderie on the floor and my family. That’s what kept me putting on that PPE time and time again to keep myself safe so I could keep them safe.” 

As the pandemic continues to come in waves with new variants popping up, Gavin hopes it will only get easier to manage.  

“Could it be something we have to live with? Yes, that’s very possible, and so I also hope in that regard if it’s something we’re going to live with, that we are much more equipped to deal with this, so the hospital systems won’t be as overwhelmed and that we will have a much better handle on effective treatments,” said Gavin.  

Right now, the number of COVID patients in hospitals is down considerably across the state. Currently, there are about 350 people hospitalized with the virus, which is a dramatic drop from the 3,500-plus patients the state saw just a couple of months ago. 

   

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