Health And Wellness

Because Of Unvaccinated COVID Patients, I Sat In An ER Hallway For 36 Hours During My Heart Attack

Photo: The author
Doug Zeigler's view when all ER rooms full with unvaccinated covid patients

On a cold November night in rural central Pennsylvania, I showed up to the emergency room with clear heart attack symptoms: very elevated blood pressure, chest pains spilling into my left arm.

My nurses were prompt, empathetic, caring, and on top of my issue. They were truly apologetic that they had no beds for me to be in.

The reason, they said, was unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

Those are their words, not mine.

And let me tell you, the frustration and anger at that being the reason they couldn't put a person experiencing a heart attack in a proper room was palpable in their voices and in their language.

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These are the very same folks who at the beginning of this pandemic we lauded as heroes. Cheered for them. Revered their resolve and sacrifice.

And now? These same nurses feel like they've been forgotten and been spat upon. They want nothing more than to provide care, but can't.

All because people think their 'freedom' is more important than the health of their fellow citizen. Than the safety of those that pledge to care for them.

Doug and his wife, Jill

Many of the nurses I spoke with during my visit to the ER are rightfully pissed off at those folks.

Because of those selfish people, folks like me with a serious health crisis are put into hallways and waiting rooms for hours on end. Some never receive the treatment they need at all.

Not because the nurses and doctors want to give second-rate treatment, but because beds and staff are being overwhelmed by the willfully unvaccinated.

I sat for 36 hours in a bed in an ER hallway entrance waiting for help with my heart.

I do not in any way blame the folks that cared for me. They simply did not have the space or staff to give me the care I needed. They managed my symptoms, hoping that would be enough.

I saw an endless parade of people entering the ER in that hallway. All needing care, most unable to get it immediately because selfish people can't get a simple shot or two.

Below, you can see a photo of my view from the hospital bed where I lay for 36 hours. It's facing the ambulance entrance of the ER. 

Here's what you probably don't know about what happens when patients are kept in hallways instead of rooms or treatment areas: Privacy goes out the window.

Patient confidentiality doesn't exist in an ER hallway. I knew what was going on with all of the patients near me, and I imagine everyone around knew what was happening with me, too. HIPAA violations be damned. 

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I was fortunate. I was able to get to a cardiologist and get taken care of. Yes, I'd had a heart attack and underwent surgery to have five stents put in my heart. I'm grateful to be recovering now. 

But I have been thinking a lot about those poor ER nurses and doctors. How weary they must be. How exhausted.

And to be honest, I bet they feel betrayed, too.

And they should. I would be if I were them.

So let's endeavor to remind ourselves that those people working tirelessly in what seems to be a hopeless pattern are heroes in the best of ways. They deserve our respect and our love for how much they sacrifice.

They deserve to not feel like Sisyphus on a daily basis.

Our front-line medical workers deserve to know we appreciate them by doing all we can to lessen their fear, worry and despair.

To the all the people that took care of me in an incredibly terrifying time, you have my eternal thanks and gratitude. Know that I will do all I can to help on my end to lessen your workload, and to respect your time and sacrifice.

Oh, and lastly: Get vaccinated for COVID. It's safe, free, and overwhelmingly effective. If not for yourself, how about for the people you used to venerate as the heroes of the pandemic.

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Doug Zeigler is (in no particular order) a UK basketball fan, dancer, goofball, husband, dad, writer, fan of '80s music and a quoter of Spongebob. He's been fortunate enough to have his writing published in The Good Men Project and The Huffington Post. He hopes to one day actually finish writing a book. For more, follow Doug on Twitter

All photos used with permission from the author

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This article was originally published at Twitter. Reprinted with permission from the author.