Emergency departments across North Texas are seeing an increase in COVID patients -- young and old -- seeking urgent medical care.
“I can tell you heart-wrenching stories of patients on ventilators that are dying because they weren't vaccinated. And it's just so preventable,” Dr. Glenn Hardesty said.
Hardesty is an emergency medicine physician with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano.
“They are coming in sicker, but the take home message is that they're coming in unvaccinated,” Dr. Hardesty said. “The rate of ICU admission is significant with this (delta) strain and it does affect younger people.
Data shows at least five COVID deaths were reported as happening in North Texas emergency departments in less than two weeks.
According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s website, a 46-year-old died of COVID in the Methodist Mansfield ER on Aug. 29. Just three days later, a 39-year-old died of COVID in the Arlington Memorial ER.
On Wednesday, Dallas County reported three people – all with underlying health conditions -- died of COVID in area-emergency departments.
The youngest victim was a boy between the ages of 10 to 19.
WFAA asked Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang about these three emergency department deaths.
“I don't think that this was a situation where they weren't able to get a hospital bed, but I think it was perhaps they were pretty severely ill when they reached the hospital," said Dr. Huang.
Doctors believe several factors could play a role in emergency room deaths, depending on a case-by-base basis.
For example, one reason could be that people who contract the delta variant of the coronavirus seem to get sicker more quickly.
“We’ve certainly seen patients that go from feeling mildly ill on Tuesday to significantly, deathly ill on Wednesday or Thursday,” Dallas County Medical Society’s Dr. Mark Casanova said. “So it’s plausible that some of these deaths that we’re seeing unfold in either the ED or very shortly after hospitalization, are related to those factors.”
Other medical professionals told WFAA that COVID patients are receiving treatment while in the emergency department. But some pass away as they wait to be transferred to an available bed.