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 23, 2020 6:10 AM
Updated: Oct 23, 2020 6:10 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300913

Reported Deaths: 5332
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41330845
Lake26364448
Allen17299290
Elkhart16665212
St. Joseph16319220
Hamilton12459164
Vanderburgh9428112
Tippecanoe826727
Porter791279
Johnson6139164
Hendricks5807154
Vigo574474
Monroe525247
Clark495374
Delaware4789103
Madison4760119
LaPorte446894
Kosciusko446139
Howard325575
Warrick316072
Floyd306177
Bartholomew303262
Wayne295261
Cass293431
Marshall289944
Grant258747
Noble246846
Hancock243749
Henry237136
Boone235154
Dubois230430
Dearborn208829
Jackson206033
Morgan200643
Knox178017
Gibson177022
Clinton174920
Shelby174554
Lawrence171646
DeKalb171229
Adams165219
Miami155114
Wabash153018
Daviess152243
Fayette145233
Steuben141113
Jasper138311
Harrison137624
LaGrange136629
Montgomery131226
Whitley129910
Ripley123714
Decatur123542
Huntington122310
Posey118913
Putnam118326
Wells118327
Randolph117819
White117421
Clay115621
Jefferson114214
Greene100253
Scott99818
Jay95012
Starke89221
Sullivan86615
Fulton81117
Perry80921
Jennings80514
Spencer8047
Fountain7378
Washington7176
Carroll66813
Franklin65925
Orange65728
Vermillion5832
Owen5816
Parke5416
Newton54012
Tipton53726
Rush5216
Blackford51211
Pike50218
Pulaski36810
Martin3485
Brown3263
Benton3251
Crawford2781
Union2621
Switzerland2473
Warren2352
Ohio2257
Unassigned0265

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 363304

Reported Deaths: 6020
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin49267665
Cuyahoga35214736
Hamilton29462371
Montgomery19636225
Butler14472144
Lucas14033409
Summit12962310
Stark8529197
Warren798975
Mahoning7068299
Lake662766
Lorain623697
Clermont563946
Delaware540335
Licking535875
Fairfield523763
Trumbull5159144
Greene510563
Clark501064
Allen460685
Marion457751
Wood4394107
Medina428654
Miami416465
Pickaway396448
Columbiana339597
Portage334471
Tuscarawas317557
Wayne314993
Richland306732
Mercer284737
Ross239259
Hancock232736
Muskingum231910
Auglaize223230
Putnam221449
Erie217165
Darke217058
Ashtabula215753
Geauga197351
Scioto193615
Union18658
Lawrence185436
Shelby184815
Athens18454
Seneca173118
Belmont158529
Madison156218
Sandusky152327
Preble148421
Huron147518
Defiance137921
Holmes137739
Logan123613
Knox122518
Fulton122025
Crawford119116
Ottawa118930
Washington116427
Clinton103414
Ashland102722
Williams10238
Jefferson10124
Highland99517
Henry98422
Brown9644
Champaign9345
Jackson90312
Van Wert8976
Fayette89217
Hardin86118
Morrow8552
Guernsey83313
Coshocton81413
Perry77012
Adams75012
Pike7261
Wyandot70516
Gallia70413
Paulding62710
Hocking61011
Noble59722
Carroll44310
Meigs37612
Monroe31021
Morgan2395
Vinton2105
Harrison1913
Unassigned00
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