Ray DeMonia, 73, was born and raised in Cullman, Alabama, but died on September 1, some 200 miles away, in an intensive care unit in Meridian, Mississippi.
Last month DeMonia, who spent 40 years in the antiques and auction business, suffered a heart emergency. But it was because of the full hospitals because of the coronavirus – and not his heart – that he was forced to spend his last days so far from home, according to his family.
“Due to COVID 19, CRMC emergency staff contacted 43 hospitals in 3 states looking for a cardiac intensive care bed and eventually found one in Meridian, MS,” the latest read paragraph from Ray’s obituary, referring to Cullman Regional Medical Center.
“In honor of Ray, please get the vaccine if you haven’t, in an effort to free up resources for non-COVID-related emergencies,” the obituary reads. “He wouldn’t want another family to go through what his did.”
The challenge for Ray’s family to find appropriate care for their loved one comes amid the latest wave of COVID-19 cases that has again strained many intensive care units, as the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading. Although some people infected after vaccination require hospitalization, a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that unvaccinated people were much more likely to be infected, be hospitalized and die from COVID. -19.
“Looking at the cases over the past two months, when the delta variant was the predominant variant circulating in this country, those who weren’t vaccinated were about four and a half times more likely to contract COVID-19, more than 10 times. more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the disease, ”CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a White House briefing last week.
Critical care capacity in Alabama has been maximized in recent weeks, and about half of intensive care beds are occupied by COVID patients, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Speaking last week, Dr Scott Harris, chief of the Alabama public health department, said the state continues to experience “a real crisis” with the capacity of intensive care beds.
“We’ve had a little plateau over the last week. I’m very grateful for that,” he said, adding that “the numbers aren’t great. But at least the numbers haven’t continued to grow. to augment.”
Ray’s daughter Raven DeMonia said The Washington Post that it was “shocking” when the hospital told the family that there were no intensive care beds near Cullman, a town of about 16,000 people about 50 miles north of Birmingham .
“It was like ‘What do you mean?’” After hearing that her father would be flown to Mississippi, she told the To post. “I never thought this would happen to us.”
NPR tried unsuccessfully to reach the DeMonia family.
A spokesperson for Cullman Regional Medical Center, who declined to give details of DeMonia’s case citing confidentiality concerns, confirmed to NPR that DeMonia had been transferred from CRMC, but said the reason was that ‘he needed a “higher level of specialist care not available” in the hospital. .