As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across South Florida, so have the number of hospitalizations among unvaccinated patients.
Kevin Warshel was not suffering from COVID-19 when he spent two days at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines last week.
Hospital staff are caring for non-COVID patients by setting up make-shift facilities in conference rooms, cafeterias, auditoriums and classrooms - wherever there is space.
“Patients are lined up in hallways, everywhere, they slid a bed wherever they could,” said Warshel.
Warshel went to the emergency room on August 11th with chest pains and needed a heart catheter.
He sent NBC 6 photos from inside Memorial Hospital West where 15-20 non-COVID-19 patients were housed in a classroom, in beds separated by plastic sheets, leaving little privacy.
“The belching, vomiting, people using the restroom, some of us could get up but others were bedridden," said Warshel. "One woman screamed throughout the night."
Memorial Healthcare System hit a pandemic high Monday caring for 692 patients with COVID-19. The numbers are pushing staff to the brink.
“They’re mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted and when they have all these patients in front of them sick with COVID-19 and they see the mortality that’s unnecessary, it’s demoralizing. They’re sad and frustrated, because something can be done. Get vaccinated so they can get back to the business of health care,” said Maggie Hansen, Chief Nurse Executive at Memorial Healthcare System.
Hansen says staff are working in teams to care for patients, with nurses pulled from other departments to help out. She says if more people got vaccinated, it would help bring the number of people in hospitals down.
“Those numbers are tied together. The weapon to end this pandemic is the vaccine. We are already strained, so if we can end or curb this we will have an easier time providing care to everyone,” said Hansen.
Warshel says staff are doing the best their best given the challenges. His message to everyone - get the vaccine to help relieve the pressure on hospitals.
“COVID-19 is real and it’s not just affecting COVID patients. All of us other patients, with other needs, can’t get what they need,” said Warshel.