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Alberta doctor details heartbreaking case of COVID-19 patient rushed to the ER

Health-care workers get ready to turn a COVID-19 patient in the ICU who is intubated and on a ventilator from her back to her stomach at the Humber River Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, December 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

EDMONTON – An Edmonton doctor is giving Albertans a glimpse of the COVID-19 horrors that unfold in acute care units across the province.

Dr. Darren Markland, who works in the ICU, shared on Twitter the case of a woman who recently came into the hospital in need of urgent care. The single mother hadn’t had time to get vaccinated.

Markland explains the eldest of her three children called 911 when she slumped over the kitchen sink, unable to get back up.

“That’s where the paramedics told me they found her, with one of her children trying to give her a glass of water. She was so ashen they didn’t think they would get her to the hospital in time. They went with lights and sirens,” Markland wrote.

Her heart stopped as they transferred her stretchers, but ER staff was able to revive her, Markland explained. But hope faded quickly.

“I could tell by the color of her lips and the frown on the respiratory therapist’s face that it wouldn’t last,” he shared in his thread.

“I walked over to the room and started looking through her history on the computer. She had been sick for days. There was a positive COVID test in her file from days ago. In the room, they start chest compressions again. Another round of epinephrine.”

Markland says the ER doctor makes eye contact with him, silently pleading with him to take the patient to the ICU. Their efforts would not be enough to save this woman.

“‘We keep getting her back.'”

“‘Yes, but we can’t oxygenate her.'”

“‘But…'”

“‘We both know the mortality of a COVID arrest.'”

“I cut [the doctor] off before she tells me more about [the woman’s] children,” his tweet reads.

“I write a note in her chart. I try not to make eye contact with the paramedics who brought her in, in desperate fear that they will tell me more personal details of this young woman. That they will make her real. Of course, I flinch.”

He says he asked about the woman’s kids. Where were they now? Grandma has them, he learned.

“I reflexively clench my jaw knowing that her children are sick. ‘Was grandma vaccinated?'”

The heartbreaking story has been retweeted nearly 1,500 times on social media, with over 2,500 likes.

Several people responded expressing their sympathies and anger over the current COVID-19 situation in Alberta.


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As of Tuesday, there were 822 people in hospital, with 212 people admitted to the ICU.

The ICU admissions reported on Tuesday are the highest the province has seen to date.

Of those currently in the ICU, about 88 per cent are unvaccinated.

While Alberta’s leaders have urged people to get vaccinated, hoping cash prizes would motivate the hesitant, the province’s doctors have begged the government to implement stricter health restrictions and vaccine passports to help curb the spread of the virus.

The COVID-19 cabinet met Tuesday afternoon, but it has yet to be seen what came of that meeting.