Family says Alabama man was turned away from 43 packed ICUs before dying
An Alabama man who was having a cardiac emergency reportedly died last month after 43 hospitals with full intensive care units turned him away.
Ray DeMonia’s daughter told The Washington Post that her father was unable to find an available ICU bed because hospitals in Alabama were inundated with COVID-19 patients, especially those who were not vaccinated.
DeMonia’s wife received a call around 12 hours after he was admitted to Cullman Regional Medical Center notifying her that after calling 43 hospitals, there was not a specialized cardiac ICU bed available for him.
As a result, DeMonia was ultimately transferred to a Mississippi hospital — located roughly 200 miles away — to receive specialized treatment.
He died on Sept. 1, three days before his 74th birthday.
Raven DeMonia, his daughter, told the Post it was “shocking” for the family to learn that dozens of ICUs were not able to treat her father.
Jennifer Malone, a spokeswoman for Cullman Regional, confirmed to the Post that DeMonia was “a patient in our care and was transferred to a different facility,” adding that “the level of care he required was not available at Cullman Regional.”
She said the circumstances like the ones DeMonia experienced have been an “ongoing problem” for Cullman doctors and other hospitals in the state.
“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,” she told the Post.
Alabama is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases largely because of the highly contagious delta variant, which is now the dominant strain across the U.S.
Almost 2,800 people in Alabama were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, according to the Post, with 768 of those placed in ICUs.
The state is averaging 2,641 new infections a day, according to the newspaper, which is a decrease from its previous seven-day average for daily cases.
Alabama is among the states with the lowest vaccination rates — only 40.2 percent of its population is fully vaccinated, the fourth-lowest inoculation rate in the country, ahead of just Idaho, West Virginia and Wyoming, according to data compiled by the Post. About 54 percent of the eligible U.S. population is vaccinated.
DeMonia’s daughter told the newspaper that her father was vaccinated against the virus, and the family is now urging others to do the same.
“In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non COVID related emergencies,” the family wrote, according to the Post. “He would not want any other family to go through what his did.”