All posts filed under: Issues

At an Overrun ICU, ‘the Problem Is We Are Running Out of Hallways’

Nick Ehli September 22, 2021 BILLINGS, Mont. — Nurses fill the hospital room to turn a patient from his stomach to his back. The ventilator forcing air into him is most effective when he’s on his stomach, so he is in that position most hours of the day, sedated and paralyzed by drugs. Lying on his stomach all those hours has produced sores on his face, and one nurse dabs at the wounds. The dark lesions are insignificant given his current state, but she continues just the same, gently, soothingly, appearing to whisper to him as she works. The man has been a patient at Billings Clinic for nearly a month, most of that time in the hospital’s intensive care unit. He is among other patients, room after room of them, with the same grim tubes inserted down their throats. They have covid-19 — the vast majority unvaccinated against the virus, the hospital says. Visitors generally aren’t permitted in these rooms, but the man’s mother comes most days to gaze through a glass window for …