Heart patient dies after being turned down from 43 ICUs amid COVID-19 surge

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A 73-year-old patient from Alabama died Sept. 1 after dozens of hospitals in three nearby states did not have intensive care unit bed availability for the patient, The Washington Post reported Sept. 12. 

The patient, Ray DeMonia, was treated for a stroke in April. In late August, he began experiencing heart problems and was taken to Cullman (Ala.) Regional Medical Center. Jennifer Malone, a spokesperson for the hospital, confirmed to the Post that Mr. DeMonia was a patient in their care, adding that "the level of care he required was not available at Cullman Regional." 

The hospital contacted 43 other hospitals in three states, all of which did not have a specialized cardiac intensive care unit bed available, his family told the Post

Mr. DeMonia was eventually transferred to Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Miss., about 200 miles away and died Sept. 1. 

“When patients are transported to other facilities to receive care that they need, that’s becoming increasingly more difficult because all hospitals are experiencing an increased lack of bed space," Ms. Malone told the Post.

The news comes as Alabama grapples with "a real crisis" with its ICU bed capacity amid COVID-19 surges, Scott Harris, MD, head of the state's health department, said during a Sept. 10 news conference. 

There were nearly 2,800 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alabama as of Sept.12,  including 768 people in ICUs, according to data from the Post. There were about 60 more ICU patients than there were open beds in the state last week, Dr. Harris said.

 

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