COVID-19 is a force to be reckoned with, there’s no doubt. From weddings, sporting events, and funerals to education, healthcare and even a trip to the grocery store, it seems nothing has escaped the wrath of Coronavirus. But the real impact is felt in the lives of people hospitalized by the virus and their families. While many people contract the virus and have mild to moderate symptoms, others require acute hospital care or intensive care with ventilator support. And, unfortunately, some people die from this virus, those who are older or those with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.
Another very real and difficult consequence the spread of COVID-19 brings is the heavy burden our hospitals face taking care of people extremely sick from the virus who need intensive care. Delivering a direct hit to hospitals, there’s a shortage of critical care beds due to the perfect storm of critically ill COVID-19 patients; ongoing life events such as heart attacks, strokes and accidents, and post-surgical patients requiring intensive care.
Hospitals in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and across the country have implemented diversion status several times, meaning they could not take any additional patients requiring intensive care. “People think it can’t happen here, but it can,” said Shawn Whittaker, CNO at the Hospital Authority of Miller County. “In one recent example, two nurses at our hospital spent eight hours calling 47 different hospitals in Georgia, Florida and Alabama trying to find an intensive care bed open for a severely sick COVID-positive patient.”
Whittaker continued, saying “The medical professionals at HAMC are all but begging people to wear a mask inside public places, wash their hands frequently, and watch their distance. These are simple and effective ways to help slow the spread of Coronavirus. Next time, it could be your mom having a heart attack, your brother in car accident, or your grandfather with COVID. When we can’t find a hospital with an opening in intensive care, it gets real serious, real quick.”
“We know wearing a mask can be inconvenient, hot, and feel little odd. Washing your hands frequently can be a pain. Choosing to avoid crowds is different for sure, and if you are out, not shaking hands or hugging can feel downright rude!” Dr. Nakeisha Otto-Stewart with Miller County Hospital said. “But, even with these inconveniences, I hope the people of Miller County, and everywhere, will feel empowered knowing their actions could spare someone from being very sick, help stop the virus from spreading, prevent our hospitals from being overburdened, and save a life. Mask up Miller, so we can all get back to the life we love!”