CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The family of an Alabama man who died of heart issues more than 200 miles from his home is asking people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus after more than 40 hospitals across three states were unable to accept him due to full cardiac ICUs.
Ray Martin DeMonia died Sept. 1; three days before his 74th birthday, his family said.
DeMonia suffered a heart attack and was transferred to the nearest available bed, which was more than 200 miles away at Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi.
In his obituary, his family urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non-COVID-related emergencies,” the obituary read.
Cases in COVID-19 cases are once again pushing hospitals across the country to their limits.
Danne Howard, the Alabama Hospital Association deputy director, said the state is in a dire place. The COVID-19 surge began in mid-august and has now reached its highest point ever during the pandemic.
“I can’t predict what’s going to happen tomorrow, but we’re certainly not rending in the right direction,” Howard said.
Although hospitals do have the capability to expand capacity, Howard said there’s a lack of staff to handle that change adequately.
“That’s why we’re so aggressively trying to find additional resources, so those decisions don’t have to be made, so those types of life-or-death situations are not something that have to be faced,” Howard explained.
On Tuesday, Alabama saw 83 more ICU patients than ICU beds open statewide. On Wednesday, there were 94 more ICU patients than beds available.
The Alabama Hospital Association says more than half of those patients are battling COVID-19. Howard says relief can’t come soon enough.
“We’re not throwing in the towel, but it is a dire and serious situation,” she said.
The Alabama Hospital Association works daily with the state health department and the governor’s office to find staff and resources. However, Hurricane Ida has taken much of it away; federal medical teams are still deployed to help there. They’re urging people to continue to socially distance themselves and only go to the emergency room if it is a true emergency.