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Carilion Clinic gives inside look at COVID-19 ICUs

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - WDBJ7 cameras were not allowed inside the Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, due to current safety precautions, but Carilion shared interviews and footage with media outlets to give a real life glimpse of the the effects of COVID-19.

Even after 20 months, it continue to impacts health care providers, kids, adults, older adults, and all genders, races, and ethnicities.

”I sent 8 people to the morgue in 11 days,” said Dr. Frank Biscardi.

The virus that just won’t seem to quit hasn’t backed down. Carilion doctors and nurses see it, hear it, and feel it every day.

”I think the hardest part about it is when patients are so sick and they’re dying and you have to get family in here on time, but when things happen so rapidly and you have to call the family member, they have to drive here, get to the hospital and we’re just holding on for dear life, as we’re waiting for them to get here so their family members can say goodbye,” said Devon Smith, a registered nurse at 8 Mountain ICU, a COVID-19 ICU.

As of this past Friday in the near southwest region, which includes Carilion, Centra, LewisGale, Sovah Health, and Salem VA facilities, there were 303 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. 93 of those patients were in ICUs.

”The patients that we have right now compared to our previous surge, they’re just a lot younger and a lot sicker, they’re needing a lot more intensive care, a lot more staffing and supplies. We’re caring for some of the sickest patients we’ve ever cared for with really some of the lowest staffing we’ve ever had,” said unit director Russell Beggarly.

While COVID-19 has taken a major toll on those who have fought or are currently fighting it, the virus also continues to hurt healthcare workers.

“Because if you feel like your whole day is backpedaling, and failures, it’s just not natural for humans to come in and do that day after day,” said Beggarly.

But day after day, hands are washed, PPE is worn, and procedures are performed to try and promote healing. The day that patients have regrets, though, is the day when they realize they may not be able to leave the ICU.

”So many times we’ve had people right before we’re about to intubate them, just begging and wishing they could get the vaccine, and at that point it’s too late, and so we have to continue the treatment of what it is, and hope they make it to the other side to get vaccinated afterwards,” said Smith.

Carilion Clinic maintained patient confidentiality while shooting the footage and interviews shared. They released the following statement:

“Safety and patient privacy were our top priorities during filming. No patients are identified and we received consent for all footage that showed a patient room. All filming was done outside of patient rooms, no care was disrupted, and the Carilion video crew worked with infection prevention to ensure proper PPE and precautions throughout.”

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