COVID-19 MICU

Camera: Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Exposure: 1/23
Aperture: f/2
Focal Length: 52mm equivalent
ISO: 500

I had a chance to spend some time in the COVID Medical Intensive Care Unit at the University of Utah Health Sciences last month to help illustrate the environment that our medical professionals are working in, taking care of people who have contracted COVID and are battling for their lives.  The patients who end up here are the sickest of the sick. By the time they show up in the MICU, their lung function is collapsing, and in many cases, other organ systems have been under attack by this novel coronavirus that has swept the globe in the worst global pandemic since the 1918 flu.

This project was a team effort by Stephen Dark @stephenpdark, Stace Hasegawa @nuwaif, Kathy Wilets @Kwilets, Alexandra Boulanger, Suzanne Winchester @suewin, Mitchell Sears @mitchsears, and the staff of the University of Utah MICU, to try and document the environment and tell the story of some of the people in this country who are working so, incredibly hard to fight this disease, and keep people alive who would otherwise die from this disease. Stephen Dark wrote an accompanying article for the visit, putting words to the images that help impart a sense of what the work environment is like for the nurses, technicians, therapists, physicians, housekeepers, and social workers who exhibit the incredible professionalism, and compassion to help keep people alive in this extraordinary time.

I first wrote about this pandemic back in March of 2020, a week after I shut my lab down and sent everyone home.  I had just gotten back from giving a talk back East, and while modeling disease spread through the country, realized it was endemic and I needed to act to protect the people in my lab.  At the time, I figured it would be bad, and I estimated that there might be 16,350 possible deaths in this country based upon a 1% infection rate… I had no idea that as of this writing, there would be over 440,000 Americans dead from this outbreak. Globally, there are over 2.2 million dead from this disease, and people are still not taking it seriously with people protesting at vaccination sites, and trying to break into hospitals in an attempt to prove that COVID is a hoax.  In addition to the safety and logistical issues associated with documenting hospitals fighting deadly diseases, severe penalties were levied or threatened by the previous White House administration against hospitals that leaked patient information, which has led to a dearth of journalist access to hospitals.

Everyone is tired.  Everyone is on the edge of burning out.  Everyone is scared, and many are lonely as a result of protocols to keep their loved ones safe.  I’ve worked in and around intensive care units for many years, and this was the first time that I’ve had medical care personnel break down in tears in routine conversation from the unrelenting stress of caring for others while trying to stay safe and keep their own families safe.

 

Camera: Leica SL2
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Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 6,400

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/160
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
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Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 320

 

Camera: Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Exposure: 1/60
Aperture: f/2
Focal Length: 52mm equivalent
ISO: 320

 

Camera: Apple iPhone 12 Pro
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Aperture: f/2
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Camera: Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Exposure: 1/120
Aperture: f/2
Focal Length: 52mm equivalent
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Camera: Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Exposure: 1/60
Aperture: f/1.6
Focal Length: 52mm equivalent
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Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 500

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 320

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 4,000

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 1,600

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 1,000

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 2,500

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/50
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 6,400

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 2,500

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 2,500

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 1,600

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 2,500

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 85mm
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Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 85mm
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Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/50
Aperture: f/5
Focal Length: 85mm
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Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/160
Aperture: f/5
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 6,400

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 85mm
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Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 640

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 85mm
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Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 800

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 2,000

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 800

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 1,600

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 3,200

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 6,400

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/160
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 800

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 400

 

Camera: Leica SL2
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 1,000

8 Replies to “COVID-19 MICU”

  1. Hi Bryan, it’s been a while since our paths crossed. I found this post because Om Malik linked to it. There was a TV news report from inside our local hospital here in the UK, and the images from there were equally grim. I really hope that lots of people watched it. I’ve been shielding at home since March last year, as I’m clinically vulnerable due to the medication I have to take. It scares me that so many people still aren’t taking Covid-19 seriously. Stay safe.

  2. It was the burning candle tattoo that hit me. The negative effect of working shifts and unnatural hours has on our health is bad enough, I mean it will literally knock years off your life. That plus the psychological trauma and dealing with social restrictions… The fallout from covid is going to be incredible. Super effort from all key workers, especially those on the front line, you’re all amazing.

    1. Yes, I have no idea how many years it’s knocked off my life but I bet it’s a lot…
      I used to not have very much psychological trauma but this past year has done some weird stuff to me; mostly I do not want to socialize and commune with people much – I stay in a lot.

      1. Indeed. This has been such a brutal year and a half. I sorta went into this reading back about the 1918 flu pandemic which contextualized a lot of this for me. I figured this would last about two years, just like most other pandemics. Unfortunately, I don’t think anybody was ready for this, despite a long history of pandemics to learn from.

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