ICU nurse on COVID deaths in Broward: ‘It’s very difficult; it’s very exhausting’
Warworn nurses want the unvaccinated and the opponents of face masks to reconsider their positions. This month, veteran intensive care unit nurses and doctors in South Florida have had to regularly notify families that their loved ones have become a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
The more infectious Delta variant is leading to increased transmissibility, even in a few vaccinated individuals. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported fully vaccinated people with Delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others, but it appears to spread for a shorter time.
Hospitalizations have been higher among the unvaccinated. For Lotta Siegel, the director of nursing of critical care and cardiovascular institute at Memorial Hospital West, dealing with Broward County’s ongoing surge in hospitalizations felt like riding a terrifying rollercoaster.
“When we were in June, we celebrated that we had no COVID ICU patients on a Friday — and it was the first time during the entire pandemic that we had none — and then July 4th hit,” Siegel said on Monday.
By mid-August, the Memorial Healthcare System hit a peak with 738 COVID patients. The majority of the COVID-19 patients at MHS didn’t have the protection of any of the three COVID vaccines available for free in the U.S.
During the week of Aug. 19, Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines had 63 inpatient ICU beds occupied, Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood had 110 inpatient ICU beds occupied, Memorial Hospital in Pembroke had 24 ICU patients, and Memorial Hospital Miramar had 33, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Most of the new Memorial Healthcare System COVID patients have been much younger this surge in cases. From July 1 to Aug. 26, nearly 70% of them were 18 to 65 years old.
“Before July, we had seen a reduction in COVID deaths and since July that has gone up each week,” Siegel said. “It is very difficult. It is very exhausting.”
The COVID vaccine remains the best weapon against COVID and misinformation is contributing to the tragedy. She said patients in their death beds have been skeptical about their prognosis.
“Disbelief: ‘Nobody dies from COVID!’ I get that a lot,” Siegel said.
Memorial Healthcare System reported 13 COVID patients died in June, 106 in July and so far this month 121.
Siegel said some of the most difficult calls have been when she has had to notify grandparents that they have outlived their adult children.
“They are watching their grandchildren and we just broke them the news that that child’s parent has not made it,” Siegel said, adding, “We just want people to survive, unfortunately, this pandemic does have a grim outcome at times of complete finality and death.”
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— Memorial Healthcare System (@mhshospital) August 25, 2021
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— Jackson Health System (@JacksonHealth) August 30, 2021
We continue to operate State of Florida monoclonal antibody sites to expand access to this lifesaving treatment for COVID-19. An updated list of sites is below. You can make an appointment here: https://t.co/OvAqOA3ibv pic.twitter.com/3cxPBn4TYZ
— Florida Dept. Health (@HealthyFla) August 30, 2021
“Monoclonal antibody treatments are a very good therapy for folks that develop COVID-19. It’ll save your life and keep you out of the hospital.” – Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, FDEM Chief Medical Officer pic.twitter.com/BbfNttP5bZ