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A mom in Utah had a heart attack. The life-saving care she needed was in short supply because of Covid-19

A woman in Utah was turned away from hospitals while having a heart attack because the hospitals did not have bed space due to Covid-19. CNN's Martin Savidge reports.

Posted: Oct 22, 2020 4:11 AM
Updated: Oct 22, 2020 4:30 AM


In the predawn hours of a recent Tuesday morning in a suburban Salt Lake City hospital, Laurie Terry's doctor made a disturbing discovery: Utah's record setting Covid-19 outbreak had become more dangerous than many knew.

The virus now had the ability to potentially kill a patient -- his patient -- even if she wasn't infected.

Hours before, Terry, a 47-year-old mother and wife, had suffered a heart attack in her Herriman, Utah, home. According to her sister, she had to be revived four times in the ambulance on the way to the nearest hospital.

Once there, the medical staff and her doctor quickly determined Terry would likely die if she didn't get the more sophisticated life-saving treatment found in an intensive care unit of a larger hospital.

'He (the doctor) told us right away, we're doing everything we can to try and find a hospital that can take Laurie, and we can't find one,' Stephanie Deer, Terry's sister, said.

'If you would have seen the look on that doctor's face, he was incredulous. He couldn't believe he was telling us this.'

Deer and her sister are not alone.

The state is experiencing 'one of the worst (coronavirus) outbreaks in the country,' Utah Gov. Garry Herbert said Tuesday.

As a result, patients suffering other life-threatening medical events -- non-Covid related -- are in a dangerous competition for limited specialized medical care.

Utah is in the middle of the worst period for new Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began. The state is among the 14 that reported their peak Covid-19 hospitalizations in the past week, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

The state's total ICU usage was at almost 70%, Herbert said Tuesday, and almost 16% of the state's ICU beds are used to treat Covid-19 patients.

On Friday, the University of Utah hospital's ICU was at 104% capacity.

Covid surge taking a toll on Utah doctors

Dr. Emily Spivak, among the doctors helping treat Covid patients in Utah, feels frustrated and upset by the surge in cases -- because she said she knows this shouldn't be happening. Coronavirus is preventable by hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing.

She reached her breaking point in a parking lot outside the level one trauma center where she works in Salt Lake City.

'Well, I was trying so hard not to,' she said, referring to her tears. 'I mean honestly this is just super frustrating.'

Spivak said she sees many people in public no longer following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines -- and believes they've just grown complacent.

'I don't see an end. No one's doing anything to stop what's happening,' she said. 'It's kind of like people just are going out and living their lives not realizing that they are exhausting our health care system.'

Deer said she witnessed the frustration of doctors firsthand.

'I watched those nurses call for hours, trying other systems, doing everything they could, I mean desperate.' she said.

'I don't know how the doctors and nurses and things are going to be able to keep this up when your whole life, your whole profession is dedicated to saving people's lives and you can't access medical care for a patient.'

And she shares health care professionals' frustration.

She and her sister followed every Covid precaution carefully, Deer said. Yet her sister could die as a result of the virus anyway.

She's angered by those who ignore the science.

'They don't understand how precarious their own lives and the lives of everyone they love are ... this could happen to anyone,' Deer said. 'They need to wear a mask,' Deer said. 'They need to care about their neighbors, their family, their children and they need to do it right now.'

Eventually Terry was able to be transported to a hospital with an opening and the specialized care she needed. But Deer said her condition has grown worse.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 74119

Reported Deaths: 905
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah17242236
Washington10347101
Marion9207140
Clackamas616077
Umatilla434349
Lane430942
Jackson382531
Malheur240644
Deschutes236815
Yamhill172916
Linn142423
Polk125016
Douglas93018
Klamath8724
Jefferson83411
Benton7917
Union7826
Morrow6587
Lincoln62215
Josephine5374
Wasco53019
Columbia5063
Coos4253
Hood River4011
Clatsop3600
Baker2813
Crook2296
Curry1352
Grant1341
Lake1321
Tillamook1310
Harney991
Wallowa713
Gilliam230
Sherman230
Wheeler30
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1215455

Reported Deaths: 19151
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles3958437639
San Bernardino930191129
Riverside868541437
San Diego81084997
Orange778191577
Kern41328448
Fresno38288481
Sacramento36905576
Santa Clara34292476
Alameda29476512
San Joaquin25742502
Contra Costa23895261
Stanislaus21714424
Tulare20701308
Ventura19510175
Imperial16019356
San Francisco15450160
Monterey15328121
San Mateo14148170
Sonoma12198157
Merced11688179
Santa Barbara11481135
Kings1109387
Solano1025281
Marin7755129
Placer649768
San Luis Obispo612936
Madera611985
Shasta488247
Yolo482776
Santa Cruz442628
Butte389459
Sutter333216
Napa303317
El Dorado24154
Yuba203610
San Benito188016
Lassen17733
Tehama167825
Mendocino145823
Nevada12729
Tuolumne9818
Glenn9258
Lake92019
Humboldt8509
Colusa7116
Siskiyou6242
Amador56316
Mono5483
Calaveras47822
Del Norte3281
Inyo29016
Plumas2150
Trinity1580
Mariposa1312
Modoc1310
Alpine500
Sierra190
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