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Documentary takes viewers to the front lines of Geisinger’s COVID-19 response

PHOTO PROVIDED A nurse is pictured in the intensive care unit at Geisinger Medical Center.

DANVILLE–Facing down a mysterious, deadly disease, caregivers across Geisinger’s hospitals have grappled with a harrowing inundation of patients battling COVID-19.

“It was fast and furious. And the number of cases that came in was so quick, we just could not keep pace with it initially,” said Dr. Ujwal Ratna Tuladhar, associate hospitalist at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton and who is featured in an upcoming documentary that takes viewers to the front lines of the pandemic.

The 30-minute documentary, filmed in May when Geisinger cared over 100 critically ill patients stricken with COVID-19, offers a raw look at the challenges faced by teams across Geisinger and their ingenuity to combat the pandemic and connect sick patients with their families. The documentary airs Nov. 29 on WNEP-TV.

“When you see those numbers on the TV screen on the news it’s almost numbing, but when you’re here and you see these patients, it becomes real,” said Dr. Paul Arkless, associate director, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre.

The documentary, “Five Days in May — Inside the fight against COVID-19,” provides an inside look at the fight against COVID-19 through the eyes of critical care physicians, nurses and supply chain leaders at hospitals including Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, and Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton.

“There was fear, there were tears, there was concern — and all extremely valid. I felt that along with them, because there was a lot of unknowns,” said registered nurse Chad Cope, ICU operations manager at Geisinger Community Medical Center.

The documentary is released at a time when Geisinger — and most hospital systems across the country — is grappling with the most intense surge of COVID-19 this year, which has created unprecedented capacity demands and taxed an already fatigued staff. Directed and produced by Kristin Doran, the documentary was filmed over five days when Geisinger believed the pandemic’s spread was at its height.

“Geisinger is now seeing record numbers of COVID activity in our communities and our hospitals. It’s full-blown community spread,” said Janet Tomcavage, executive vice president and chief nurse executive at Geisinger. “What you’ll witness in this documentary is the real experience of our heroic staff, and evidence that we desperately need the community’s continued support. If you’re asking how to help — please, wear a mask. This is far from over.”

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