MILWAUKEE — A local Intensive Care Unit doctor is sounding the alarm about the situation inside many hospitals with COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Eric Siegal posted his feelings on his personal Facebook page and the post spread quickly from user to user. In his post Dr. Siegal says, “Most workdays in the COVID-19 ICU feel like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Siegal has been a Critical Care Physician for more than a decade, and has practiced medicine for 25 years. He says the honest post has been a long-time coming.
“It just came to a head and I felt a need to say it. I don’t know there was any single specific event that finally pushed me over the edge. This has been brewing for a long time," said Siegal.
Siegal works in the ICU at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, and estimates the number of patients that are unvaccinated in his care at 95%. He says patients are younger and sicker than they were in the fall of 2020.
“I can’t remember the last time I saw an intubated patient survive,” Siegal says. “Death from anything is never good, but when a 75-80 year old gets sick and dies, at least you can wrap your head around it. When a 45-year-old that was previously healthy comes in and is sick and dies, the tragedy is compounded. And what’s absolutely maddening about it - that this was preventable.”
Much of this can be prevented by the vaccine, Siegal says. The constant barrage of sick people and death is taking a toll on healthcare workers as well. “You can’t just watch people die over and over and over again, knowing that this is almost entirely preventable and not start to get really pissed off,” Siegal says.
Wisconsin Hospital Association numbers show the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the southeastern part of the state is trending down, with 24 fewer patients in the last week. ICU numbers however are remaining steady.
Dr. Siegal spoke to TMJ4 News as a Critical Care Physician and not as a representative from Aurora. The company sent a statement to TMJ4, saying:
"It’s upsetting to see such a high number of people hospitalized with COVID – almost all unvaccinated – when we have a safe, effective vaccine available. While our COVID volumes across Wisconsin have fallen 10% in the past five days, Aurora St. Luke’s numbers continue to trend up with 54 COVID patients currently hospitalized. Higher volumes make it more challenging to care for patients, though as part of a large system, we do have greater flexibility to allocate resources when and where needed.
Like all health care providers, our physicians, nurses and team members have been working tirelessly to provide the best care to our patients and we empathize with their heartache and frustration. We are committed to continuing to support their well-being and have invested significant resources in a variety of programs and services.”
Dr. Siegal also worries about what may come next as variants of COVID-19 continue to mutate and spread. “Will the next variant be even worse? Will it be one the vaccine doesn’t particularly protect against?”