San Diego

Local Health Worker Describes Working In ICU With COVID-19 Patients

NBC Universal, Inc.

San Diego hospitals are operating near capacity and there are new concerns that a new post-Christmas surge will make things worse.

Respiratory therapist, Vill Miranda works inside the intensive care unit at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa and has seen the surge in patients throughout the pandemic.

“In the very beginning of this pandemic, we had maybe only two or three people in the ICU at most. Now, I worked on Christmas Eve, and in our medical intensive care unit we had 23 patients who were COVID-19 positive,” said Miranda.

“In our ICU,  I remember just a couple of weeks ago, I was at work one day and we had absolutely zero bed availability in our ICUs. That means people can’t move up from the ER, people can’t move around in the hospital. It’s ridiculous, it’s bad,” said Miranda.

As a respiratory therapist, Miranda places patients on ventilators to help them breathe. Once coronavirus patients reach the ICU, many times it’s too late.

“All of my covid patients, and keep in mind I have covid patients every single night at work, and I’ve only had two patients survive,” said Miranda.

Miranda says his patients that did survive have permanent lung damage. Most of the patients Vill sees are older than 50, but he has treated younger people as well. In many instances, he is the last person a coronavirus patient sees before they die.

“When it’s their call to take their loved one off life support, I have to move this iPad close to the window so they can look through a piece of glass at their loved one laying in bed,” said Miranda.

“Then I have to go in and take them off of life support and they sit there and they watch them pass. It’s not an easy thing for people to do,” said Miranda.

While hospitals are near capacity, Miranda wants to remind people they can still go to the hospital for other medical issues that are not related to COVID-19.

Currently, ICU availability in California’s Southern California region is at 0%. According to the County of San Diego, ICU capacity in the county was 18% on Dec. 25, but local hospital officials say there is not enough staff to cover all the ICU beds.

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