By MATT GUTMAN and HALEY YAMADA, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — More Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before.
As more than 73,000 people across the country seek medical attention for the virus, health care professionals are saying they’ve reached the brink, with no beds or equipment left to treat the overwhelming influx of patients.
Dr. Scott Michener, chief medical officer of Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma, said they’ve begun to repurpose equipment that isn’t even inside the hospital.
“Last week we had a day when we had to pull a ventilator out of an ambulance and have someone on [a] transport ventilator,” said Michener.
Michener says his hospital has one beyond full capacity and that none of the other hospitals nearby are able to help, either.
“There’s nowhere to go … nothing [health care professionals] can do. [I’m] not sleeping well these days,” he said, his protective goggles fogging up from tears of frustration and exhaustion.
At Comanche County Memorial Hospital, patient Curtis Sims is fighting for his life on a ventilator. The 57-year-old was feeling ill on Halloween and ended up testing positive for the virus, according to his wife Suzanne Sims.
Sims told ABC News that her greatest fears were realized when she dropped her husband off at the hospital — she thought she might never see him again.
“I sat there and cried,” said Sims.
On Nov. 15, doctors told Suzanne Sims that her husband’s condition was deteriorating and placed him on a ventilator. They allowed her to see him while protected in full personal protective equipment.
“I love you. … I can’t believe I actually got to come see you,” said Sims. “You keep fighting. You got this.”
She had an important message for him: his son and daughter-in-law were going to have fraternal twins, a boy and a girl.
Hospitals in Oklahoma are not the only ones being pushed to the limit. Nurses across the country say that they are exhausted, too.
Outside of Philadelphia, nurses walked off the job Tuesday to protest the lack of equipment available to treat the surge they’re seeing.
Lacie Gooch, a nurse in Nebraska, said her hospital is filled with virus patients.
“We have, I think they said, 10 Covid units and one of those is just a place for people to go and pass away unfortunately,” said Gooch.
Ashely Bartholomew, a nurse in El Paso, Texas, said her breaking point came when one of her patients compared COVID-19 to the flu. The patient was eventually placed in the intensive care unit.
“You just feel defeated,” she said. “Here’s this patient who’s in the ICU and is still clearly confused on how real COVID is.”
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