It’s 8 a.m. and Dr. Garret Pulle has just completed a 12-hour shift in the intensive care unit at Humber River Hospital.

It’s the largest community hospital ICU in the Greater Toronto Area and lately the frontline health care workers there are dealing with many coronavirus patients.

“We had a few COVIDs come in overnight,” Pulle told the new team of doctors who will replace him.

After a brief rundown of the patients, Pulle leaves. There are 15 COVID-19-positive patients in the ICU on this day.

“These patients tend to be very sick … they tend to be intubated for a long, long time,” explained internal medicine specialist Dr. Jamie Spiegelman.

“We don’t know how long yet — we’re still early in the pandemic in Toronto.”

Story continues below advertisement

If there is one thing they know for sure, it is that the patients deteriorate quickly.

Spiegelman said many patients arrive in hospital after suffering at home for a week or two with flu-like symptoms, then shortness of breath sets in and they are rushed to the emergency room.