Man Says Wife Battling Cancer Waited Hours for Hospital Bed Because of COVID-19 Patient Surge

A Fort Lauderdale lawyer says his wife waited hours for a bed in the ER at Memorial Regional Hospital

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Gregg Breitbart's wife Karen means everything to him — but this past year hasn’t been easy.

“Karen's been fighting stage 4 colon cancer now for about 15 months and we call her our princess warrior," Breitbart said.

He says she felt very sick after her latest round of chemo, so she went to the emergency room at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood last week.

Once she got there, he says the wait was extremely long due to all the doctors and nurses taking care of COVID-19 patients.

"It was frustrating and really difficult because, among other things, I wasn’t able to sit with her in the waiting room. She was there alone with a sick bag and just waiting," Breitbart said.

The lawyer out of Fort Lauderdale shared a moving post on social media about the experience, saying she sat in the waiting room for about five hours until she was placed on a gurney in a hallway.

A couple of hours later, he says she was given a bed in the ER, where she was treated and eventually released after three days in the hospital.

He says he’s grateful to the doctors and nurses who are doing their best but is disheartened seeing all the COVID patients.

"She got great care. The people who were working in the emergency room at the Memorial System and other places are really doing an unbelievable job," Breitbart said. "They’re just overwhelmed by the COVID patients. The vast majority of those who are presenting now and clogging up the system are people who are unvaccinated.”

As Florida sees record numbers of COVID-19 cases, primarily among those who are not vaccinated, Breitbart hopes his story resonates with other people to get the shot if they’re able to.

"I get you want to have personal choice and freedom, but here’s one example of what your choices are doing to me and my family and to many other families," Breitbart said. "I’m not an advocate for any particular side of this, but this is what’s happening because people are refusing to get the vaccine.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Memorial Healthcare System said while resources are being stretched thin due to the high volume of COVID-19 patients, no one should hesitate to seek care.

“Hospitals across the country are experiencing a high volume of patients due to the current COVID-19 surge, and it’s no different here in South Florida. At Memorial Healthcare System, we remain committed to taking care of our community," said Kerting Baldwin of Memorial Healthcare System. "The unprecedented patient volume we are managing is stretching our resources, but no one should hesitate to seek critical and necessary care. Since the vaccine became available, we have been urging our community to get vaccinated. We will get through this pandemic, if we all do our part.” 

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