The head of a local Intensive Care Unit says he is losing about five patients a day to COVID-19.
Dr. Fortune Alabi, ICU director and pulmonologist at AdventHealth Celebration, said too many people are not taking the virus seriously until it is too late.
“I’ve seen more people die in the last year than I’ve seen in my entire career,” he said.
Alabi spoke exclusively with Channel 9′s Lauren Seabrook about the four stages of COVID-19 leading up to the end of a patient’s life.
During COVID-19 Stage 1, Alabi says you could experience symptoms of fever, headaches, fatigue, loss of taste, loss of smell, or upper respiratory issues.
“Why some people do well and some people don’t, I don’t think I know,” said Alabi. “I don’t think anybody does.”
When the virus progresses to COVID-19 Stage 2, you will likely be hospitalized with lower respiratory tract issues and pneumonia. In the past, Alabi says many who needed oxygen by this point would have been moved to the ICU, but not anymore.
“We do not have enough ICU beds for our COVID-19 patients,” he said. “So we have to find ways to be able to take care of sick people in a non-ICU bed.”
In COVID-19 Stage 3, your chances of survival start to dwindle. You will be moved to the ICU while on high-flow oxygen. Alabi dreads the conversations he has to have with patients when they are going to be put into a medically induced coma, paralyzed, and on a ventilator.
“Deep inside you’re almost like crying, because you know that there’s a very high chance that that patient is not coming back.”
If you survive long enough to progress to COVID-19 Stage 4, doctors will try to save your life with last-resort tools like ECMO, if available. But only a lucky few will be given the opportunity to be on those machines because they’re in such limited supply.
“So, people are dying,” said Alabi, “and it’s because of inadequate care, because most of the ventilators and the ECMOs are tied down by COVID-19 patients.”
Most COVID-19 patients will be in the hospital for several weeks. Early in the pandemic, about 50% of those in the ICU did not survive. Alibi says about 70% to 80% die now because the threshold to be in the ICU is much higher with an overwhelmed health care system.
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