HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - The relentless rise in COVID-19 cases across Florida has pushed frontline workers to the brink, as soaring hospitalizations have led healthcare officials to urge everyone who qualifies to receive the vaccine.
When asked to describe the amount of people in their hospitals with COVID-19, staff members at Memorial Healthcare System locations said it’s overwhelming.
“It feels like it’s almost worse than it was when it started last year,” said Janet Trumper-Whitney, a respiratory therapist at Memorial Hospital Pembroke.
Benitez said almost all the patients she’s treated ask for the same thing.
“When we intubate, then almost their last words are begging us for a vaccine, but unfortunately, by that time, it’s already too late,” said Michelle Benitez, an ICU nurse at Memorial Hospital Pembroke.
Dr. Larry Spiegelman, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baptist Hospital in Kendall, discussed the current situation at their maternity ward.
“Right now the hospital is extremely full. The patient load is predominantly COVID patients, and the patients are much sicker than they were during the first wave,” he said.
Spiegelman said the mothers who become very ill are typically the ones who are not vaccinated.
“We have several patients who are extremely ill have that have to be delivered, or have had to be delivered, and have yet to see their baby because they’re still quite ill,” he said
As of Friday, the positivity rate in Florida is just under 20%.
Health experts fear that in the next week, the shortage in critical staff will keep going up.
“It’s really hard to see people die and to see families die,” said Trumper-Whitney.
For the families who have lost someone to the virus, the pain is unbearable.
On Friday, a funeral service was held for Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Jennifer Sepot, who died of COVID complications last week. She was 27 years old.
Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. Jared Gross broke down in tears as he paid tribute to Sepot.
“Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. Take care, friend,” he said.
Sepot was one of four first responders who have died recently after contracting the virus.
It remains unclear whether or not they were vaccinated.
Loved ones on Friday said their final goodbyes to Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Lazaro Febles at s Mass held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral.
“You’ll always be my husband, my guardian, my love. We will live life the way you taught us, and every time we need an advice, we’ll close our eyes and open our hearts,” said his widow as she addressed mourners.
Febles served in the Miami area for 11 years. He was 42 years old.
On Thursday, Miami Beach Police confirmed Officer Edward Perez, a 25-year veteran of the force, died from COVID-19.
On Friday, Coral Springs Police announced they lost Sgt. Patrick Madison from coronavirus complications as well.
“Over the past eighteen months, COVID has made a devastating impact at home and abroad,” said Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Larry Scirotto. “We have seen the pain and suffering that has affected first responders across the country.”
As families grieve, as doctors treat people, and as patients fight, local doctors said they want one thing.
“I ask everyone, for their family, for their community, for themselves and for their babies to please, please consider getting the vaccines,” said Spiegelman.
Details about funeral arrangements for Perez and Madison has not been provided.
Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.
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