Jay Reeves / AP
Ray DeMonia, 73, was born and raised in Cullman, Ala., but he passed away on September 1, about 200 miles away in an intensive care unit in Meridian, Miss.
Last month, DeMonia, who has spent 40 years in the antiques and auction business, suffered a heart attack. But it was because hospitals were full due to the coronavirus – and not his heart – that he was forced to spend his final days away from home, according to his family.
“Due to COVID 19, CRMC emergency personnel contacted 43 hospitals in 3 states in search of a cardiac ICU bed and ultimately booked one in Meridian, MS.”, Final Paragraph DeMonia’s deputy, referring to Cullman Regional Medical Center.
“In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you haven’t already, in an effort to free up resources for non-COVID-related emergencies…”, the obituary reads. “He wouldn’t want any other family to go through what he did.”
The challenge for DeMonia family members in finding appropriate care for their loved one comes amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases that have strained many ICUs. breaking point again as the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus spreads. Although some people who become infected after vaccination need to be hospitalized, a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that unvaccinated people are more likely to get sick. infected, hospitalized, and died from COVID-19.
“Looking at the cases over the past two months, when the delta variant was the predominant variant circulating in this country, unvaccinated people were four-and-a-half times more likely to be infected with COVID-19, 10 times more likely to be infected. and the risk of dying from the disease is 11 times higher,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, last week at a White House briefing.
According to Johns Hopkins University, ICU capacity in Alabama has peaked in recent weeks, and COVID-19 patients make up about half of the intensive care beds.
Speaking last week, Dr. Scott Harris, head of the Alabama Department of Public Health, said the state was continuing to experience “a real crisis” with ICU bed capacity.
“We’ve had a little bit of stability over the past week. I’m grateful for that,” he said, adding, “The numbers aren’t great. But the numbers at least haven’t continued to rise.”
DeMonia’s daughter, Raven DeMonia, said to washington articles It was “shocking” when the hospital told the family there were no ICU beds near Cullman, a town about 16,000 about 50 miles north of Birmingham.
“It was like, ‘What do you mean?’ “after learning that her father would be moved to Mississippi, she told Post. “I never thought this would happen to us.”
NPR tried to reach the DeMonia family but was unsuccessful.
A spokesman for Cullman Regional Medical Center, who declined to provide specifics of Ray DeMonia’s case, citing privacy concerns, confirmed to NPR that he had been transferred from the patient. hospital but said the reason was that he required “a higher level of specialized care not available”. .