Fresno doctor using skills from assisting in NY to help combat COVID-19 surge in Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- With the surge of COVID-19 cases in the San Joaquin Valley, frontline workers are more vital than ever.

After 26 hours straight of caring for the critically ill, Action News caught up with Fresno Anesthesiologist Dr. Ajit Rai - who is now functioning as an ICU critical care doctor in Central Valley hospitals.

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"Literally within the last four days, my life has been flipped upside down because I have completely recommitted my priorities to the ICU because we have just been so overwhelmed," he said.

A complication causing concern -- Right now, the San Joaquin Valley region has just 6.3% of its ICU available.

"We are running out of space, we are running out of supplies and we have a shortage of providers," he said. "So as a result, doctors such as myself are leveraging our skillsets to work outside our most familiar comfort zone."

Back in April, Dr. Rai traveled from to New York City to support his colleagues after their surge of cases.

RELATED: Fresno doctor books one-way flight to NY to help medical workers overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases

"That skill set that I developed there, staffing to COVID ICU, would carry into my ability to care for this region," he said.

Before sending him back home to California to help here.

"The COVID surge in New York City got better with social distancing, with mask wearing and the East Coast took it very, very seriously because they were hit so hard," he said. "So ultimately, the hospitals there decompressed. When I got back to California, the numbers here were ramping up."

Dr. Rai is focused on bringing the COVID cases down.

"My heart absolutely bleeds for the small business owners who are having to close down right now for the sake of the greater good of the community," he said. "I realize that it is very hard for a lot of people who are not in healthcare to appreciate what is happening in the walls of the hospital."
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