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Local Pulmonologist Describes ICU Scene As A 'Family Affair'

Texas Tech Physicians

Dr. Ebtesam Islam, a pulmonologist with University Medical Center, recently sat down with Texas Tech Public Media’s Kaysie Ellingson to discuss the ongoing surge in Lubbock’s COVID-19 cases.

Here are some key details from our one-on-one:  

How are healthcare workers doing with this new surge? 

I think everybody is very strained, everybody is having a lot of burnout. I know a lot of people have talked about having PTSD, you see these deaths and people dying, and you’re there by their bedside, or the nurses are always there with them. So having to watch repeated people passing away and their families not with them, it’s just very hard to watch. So I know the nurses are a bit frustrated, we’re a bit frustrated as physicians.

What trends are seeing among patient who are hospitalized?

Definitely the majority are unvaccinated that’s coming in this time around. I’m seeing a much younger range than what we had last time.

And what I’ve seen in the ICU, it’s become a family affair unfortunately. So you’ll see a son in one ICU, the father is in another ICU, grandfather already passed away, so multiple family members are being admitted together who made the decision to not get vaccinated. 

What's going on in the Emergency rooms?

I asked one of the admins to send me the time ranges they’re having, and he said it varies but up to 20 hours in the ERs. 

Is UMC able to accept transfers? 

We are having to turn people away, and this changes daily. As of yesterday they had to turn 36 patients away, but up to almost 50 patients are being turned away when they’re coming in from other hospitals wanting to be here, but we just don’t have the capacity.

Any final notes? 

[The public] may see the patient who got a little bit of oxygen and were discharged. But they’re not seeing these patients who, their oxygen is going down and you’re running in trying to intubate or you’re trying to get them stabilized.

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