Inside look at an Alabama hospital’s COVID-19 unit

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — One Alabama hospital gave a NewsNation affiliate an inside look at their COVID-19 ward in hopes that it might spur more people to get the vaccine.

Springhill Medical Center in Mobile is overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Ambulances are lined up outside. It’s a waiting game just to get a bed. The staff is overwhelmed.

“This is as bad as I’ve ever seen it,” Dr. James Dean told NewsNation affiliate WKRG. Dean is a pulmonologist.

As patient after patient struggles to breathe, Amy Sprinkle’s 24-year-old daughter, Bailey Sigler, is on a ventilator.

“Bailey is a healthy 24-year-old girl. She is now in ICU and it happened in less than a week,” Sprinkle said.

With the delta variant, the staff is seeing patients in crisis who are young. Matt Osborne, 24, wishes he had gotten vaccinated.

“I was skeptical about the vaccine at first, but I would much rather have an extra boost to avoid situations like this,” Osborne said.

Osborne is expected to go home soon, but many here will not. The staff is struggling to help dozens who are desperate.

“They are literally suffocating, ” Nurse Manager, Abby Wilson, said. She said patients are begging for help.

“Between breaths, they beg me for the vaccine. They beg me to save them. I just have to look at them and say, ‘It’s too late right now. We can’t right now, but you keep fighting.’”

Out of the 102 patients in SHMC when WKRG cameras were inside, only seven were vaccinated. Dr. Dean adds that those who are vaccinated will have a much better outcome.

“No one is going to avoid this,” Dean said. “At this point, you can either be vaccinated or you can take your chance, which is like playing Russian roulette. It’s difficult for us to watch and see and deal with knowing there is a simple answer to it. All that would have to happen is these people were vaccinated. They would not be going through this right now.”

Springhill’s CEO Jeff St. Clair, says the entire healthcare system is stressed.

“Overflow areas are full. The recovery room is now a makeshift ICU. The emergency room is an inpatient ICU. Staffing is an issue. Manpower is an issue. The supply chain is an issue. We are stressed at every point,” St. Clair said.

Meanwhile, Sprinkle is praising the medical team caring for her daughter at Springhill.

“These people at Springhill, they love [Bailey], and it shows in the care they are giving her. I think she is going to make it,” she said.

Sprinkle added, “Get the vaccine, 100%.”

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