Ray Martin DeMonia of Cullman, Alabama died of heart complications on 1st September, just three days shy of his 74th birthday — after 43 hospitals across three states were unable to treat him as their ICUs were at full capacity, Montgomery Advertiser reports.

DeMonia initially suffered a cardiac event at Cullman Regional Medical Center, but when it came time for emergency staff to transport DeMonia to a cardiac ICU, they struggled to find one with availability nearby. After contacting 43 hospitals across three different states, emergency staff ultimately transported DeMonia to Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi — approximately 200 miles from Cullman, a three and a half-hour drive away.

“In honour of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non-Covid related emergencies,” DeMonia’s family wrote in his obituary. “He would not want any other family to go through what his did.”

Just last week, The Alabama Hospital Association reported that the number of ICU beds in the state was trending into negative numbers, with it just having reached its “highest point ever during the pandemic.”

“I can’t predict what’s going to happen tomorrow, but we’re certainly not trending in the right direction,” Alabama Hospital Association Deputy Director Danne Howard said, via CBS42. “That’s why we’re so aggressively trying to find additional resources, so those decisions don’t have to be made, so those type of life-or-death situations are not something that have to be faced.”

At the time of publication, the state of Alabama was short 120 ICU beds — over half of which were occupied with Covid-19 patients.

“Now’s not the time to have a heart attack, or a major car wreck, or something serious because there is nowhere to send you,” Vernon Johnson, CEO of Dale Medical Center in Ozark, Alabama, told Montgomery Advertiser last week. “We are holding patients in our emergency room, trying to find beds for them to go to, so they can receive appropriate care.”

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