A look inside Cape Coral Hospital’s ICU treating COVID-19 patients

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
ICU team members at Cape Coral Hospital gather Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. Credit: WINK News.

For the first time since the delta variant surge, we were able to visit a hospital’s intensive care unit where coronavirus patients were being treated.

COVID-19 has Cape Coral Hospital staff overwhelmed, but they keep pushing forward as they try to give the best care under some of the toughest circumstances.

Doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, pharmacists, nutritionists and palliative care specialists all remain on the front lines of the pandemic Monday, as it takes all of these role players to care for one COVID-19 patient in an ICU.

These professionals look focused when they mask up and walk into a patient’s room. Many of them look down as they read a patient’s chart or learn of a death.

It can be hard to tell if these health professionals are wiping sweat off their eyebrows or tears away from their eyes at times.

“Unfortunately, what’s happening here is going to happen next-door, and next-door, and next-door,” said Theresa King, an ICU nurse supervisor. “And it unfortunately feels like Groundhog Day. We’re having the same conversations over and over.”

We asked King about the number of recent COVID-19 deaths and the risk for COVID-19 patients in the ICU.

“We lost five patients yesterday,” King explained. “It takes one bad moment to lose them. But potentially all of them. Some are a little closer. But potentially, it could be any of them.”

We watched as King and her team did their 10 a.m. rounds on the second floor ICU at Cape Coral Hospital. King sees heartbreak everywhere.

“I’ve seen ventilator settings here that I didn’t know were capable for people,” King said. “But we’re trying so hard to make them breathe that it’s putting their bodies through a tremendous amount of … It’s almost like putting their bodies through battle, and we’re just trying to support them and carry them through one more shift.”

Sunday, despite their best efforts, Lee Health was unable to save eight more COVID-19 patients. There were 70 COVID-19 patients on ventilators at Lee Health hospitals Monday.

There are many people in need of an ICU bed. Sometimes, it’s almost immediately that a person who dies is taken to the morgue. A room is sanitized, and another COVID-19 patient is brought to the room.

“There’s no time to wait,” King said. “There’s people waiting for the beds before it even happens, so there’s no time to even process the profound act that just happened.”

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