COVID-19: Doctor says ‘most of this is preventable’

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, August 26, 2021

Most of the COVID overcrowding issues in hospitals are preventable, according to a local internal medicine specialist.

King’s Daughters Medical Center has an eight-bed intensive care unit. As of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, the Brookhaven hospital had 10 patients in ICU, nine on ventilators. Seventeen COVID-positive patients were hospitalized.

“As many of you know, my friends, the hospital system has been overrun with COVID,” Dr. Ray Montalvo said in a video posted to the hospital’s Facebook page Thursday morning. Montalvo is an internal medicine specialist and has been in Brookhaven 30 years.

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“For the last week and a half I’ve been here in the mornings and the clinic in the afternoons,” Montalvo said. “It’s been exhausting. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting mentally and physically. I’ve seen many of the health care providers, health care workers in the office. They’ve cried to me. We’ve cried together. I’ve gone home, cried to my wife. It’s been very difficult.”

At least 22 hospitals statewide had no open ICU beds this past week. Many other hospitals were not yet at capacity, but had no ability to staff the beds.

“The real focus has been on trying to get staffing so we can keep people in hospitals and utilize those beds to release the pressure on the system,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said during a press conference Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, 1,638 patients were hospitalized statewide with confirmed COVID infections and an additional 45 were in hospitals with suspected infections. ICUs had 472 patients, 325 on ventilators.

Montalvo said fewer older patients are being seen because they got vaccinated early on. Most cases in the hospitals now are in younger people, he said.

“It’s heartbreaking. If any of y’all could be up here and see what we see, I think it would change your mind to get the vaccine. I guess we have failed as medical professionals in not convincing a lot of the younger population to get the vaccine. I’m just here trying to help educate,” said Montalvo.

“The problem is most of this is preventable. The vaccine does help. We know this. We have the data,” he said. “Please get your vaccine.”