Alabama Man Dies After Being Turned Away From 43 Full ICUs

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Ray DeMonia was turned away from dozens of ICUs at capacity, and now his family is pleading with others to get vaccinated in “an effort to free up resources for non COVID related emergencies”

Aside from stretching healthcare workers at every level beyond their limits, the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases means there are fewer resources available for any patients, not just those with COVID-related illness. With hospitals in several states hitting capacity on ICU beds, even patients without the virus are facing devastating outcomes when they need access to critical emergency care, as one Alabama man’s family detailed in his heartbreaking obituary.

Ray DeMonia’s family shared that he died on September 1 after suffering “a cardiac event,” revealing that the hospital in his hometown of Cullman, Alabama contacted 43 others in three states in search of an ICU bed — and none were able to give him the care he needed. He was eventually transferred to a Mississippi hospital about 200 miles away, but he wasn’t able to survive and died just shy of his 74th birthday, which would have been September 4.

The state’s hospitals had fully run out of ICU beds last month, with Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson telling local news station WSFA that officials had “never been here before,” adding, “We are truly now in uncharted territory.”

Now, DeMonia’s loved ones are pleading with others to get vaccinated, so no one else has to experience the heartbreak they’ve gone through. “In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non COVID related emergencies,” they wrote. “He would not want any other family to go through what his did.”

His daughter, Raven DeMonia, confirmed to the Washington Post that Ray was fully vaccinated against COVID, and that the situation was “shocking” for them as they sought to find him necessary care that could have saved his life. “It was like, ‘What do you mean?’ I never thought this would happen to us,” she said.

In his obituary, his loved ones shared that he was “like no other,” and his story is just a searing reminder that each person who chooses not to get vaccinated is putting themselves at risk for serious illness, which in turn impacts others who are vaccinated and need medical care they cannot get. Choosing not to get vaccinated simply is not a matter of personal choice when it comes to this virus, and the ripple effects are both tremendous and harrowing.