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Hospital ICU filled with COVID-19, fear and regret




Joe Gammon has a hard time speaking. This month, lying on the bed in the intensive care unit of Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, he described himself as “naive.”

“If I knew this was possible six months ago, this would have been easy,” said a six-year-old, 45-year-old father who was in crisis for several weeks at COVID-19. I did. He paused and used a suction tube to remove sputum from his throat. “But to be honest, I didn’t think I was in danger.”

Tennessee hospitals set new records every day, treating more COVID patients than ever before. 3,846 More than 100,000 Americans As of September 9, he has been hospitalized for the virus. Almost all of the most important patients have not been vaccinated, hospital officials say. In other words, the ICU is full. With a patient who regrets I’m looking forward to a second chance.

In hospitals throughout the South, and in parts of California and Oregon, more than 20% to 50% of inpatients are treated for COVID. NPR analysis shows..

Gammon said he was a truck driver from Lascassas in the countryside of central Tennessee and listened to a lot of conservative talk radio. Daily diabetes, which downplays the pandemic and promotes personal freedom, was enough to discourage him from vaccination.

Gammon said he was not an “anti-vaxxer”. And he said he now enthusiastically believes in the COVID vaccine. He is also grateful that no one else gets as sick as in an ICU like him.

“Before saying no, ask for a second opinion,” he advised those who were thinking about how to do it before hospitalization. “It is irresponsible to just say” no “. It doesn’t always affect you. What if it affects your spouse? Or your child? You wouldn’t want it. You certainly wouldn’t want it in your heart. “

Gammon’s lungs are too damaged by COVID for ventilators. He participates in the life support ECMO, which is an abbreviation for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. Unlike previous generation life support systems, ECMO people are completely conscious, can talk to their loved ones (or reporters), and can even move around with the help of a team of nurses and technicians.

However, it is a vigorous treatment with machines that work both in the heart and lungs. A thick tube exits the gammon’s neck hole, pumps all blood through the ECMO machine, oxygenates it, and then returns it to his body through the other tube. A mask that covers the nose pumps air into the lungs when given time to heal.

Even patients who survive ECMO often face months of rehabilitation, or even permanent disability or oxygen dependence.

The St. Thomas West ICU treats only COVID patients, and its data points should be fairly convincing for vaccine holdouts, said emergency nurse Angie Gicewicz.

“No one in the hospital suffers from a terrifying reaction to the vaccine,” she said.

If all patients in this hall could speak, and some could not speak because they were ventilated, Gicewicz would tell people to learn from their mistakes. Told. She told the story of an elderly woman who had been hospitalized for the past few weeks and spent her days in quarantine to control her infection.

Gicewicz said she would wave to the nurse from her enclosed room. “The first day I took care of her, she said,” I think I should have taken the vaccine. ” I said, “Well, yeah, honey, maybe. But we’re here now, so let’s do what we can for you.” “”

The woman never recovered, like many who did not get the vaccine, Gicewicz said. She died in this hospital, with an average of one or more COVID deaths daily during August.

This story is part of a partnership that includes: Nashville Public Radio, NPR And KHN.




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