Coronavirus: Alabama man dies of heart condition after 43 ICUs turn him away amid COVID-19 surge

CULLMAN, Ala. — The family of an Alabama man denied treatment at 43 intensive care units due to surging COVID-19 cases is imploring people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ray Martin DeMonia died Sept. 1, just three days shy of his 74th birthday, after suffering a cardiac event on Aug. 23. The antique dealer had finally been accepted for treatment at a Mississippi facility nearly 200 miles from his Cullman home, AL.com reported.

“In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non COVID related emergencies,” DeMonia’s obituary read.

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His family also specified in the send-off that the surge in COVID-19 infections meant that Cullman Regional Medical Center could not accommodate DeMonia’s acute cardiac ailment, AL.com reported.

“Due to COVID 19, CRMC emergency staff contacted 43 hospitals in 3 states in search of a Cardiac ICU bed and finally located one in Meridian, Mississippi. He would not want any other family to go through what his did,” the obituary stated.

Scott Harris, head of the Alabama Department of Public Health, said during a Friday news conference that despite an apparent stabilization in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations reported statewide, Alabama ICU patients still outnumber available beds.

“We continue to have a real crisis in Alabama with our ICU bed capacity,” Harris said, estimating that there were 60 more ICU patients than beds available last week.

Meanwhile, Raven DeMonia told The Washington Post that it was “shocking” to learn that nearly four dozen ICUs were unable to treat her father.

“It was like, ‘What do you mean?’” she said when she found out her father was being airlifted to the Meridian hospital. “I never thought this would happen to us.”

“The level of care he required was not available at Cullman Regional,” hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Malone told the Post.

Nearly 2,800 Alabamians were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, including 768 in the ICU. The seven-day average of total hospitalizations, however, decreased by 4% compared with the prior weeklong period. according to data compiled by the newspaper.

And although the statewide COVID-19 full-vaccination rate has increased in recent weeks, only Idaho, West Virginia and Wyoming trail Alabama’s 40% full-vaccination rate, the Post reported.

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